The Malta Independent 22 May 2019, Wednesday

Overall democracy declines in Western Europe, but Malta holds steady – Democracy Index 2018

Jeremy Micallef Thursday, 10 January 2019, 07:50 Last update: about 5 months ago

Europe has seen a larger decline in democracy than any other region in the world, according to the Democracy Index report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

In spite of this, Europe still held the top spots in the index with Norway, Iceland and Sweden taking first, second, and third places respectively.

The split in Europe came between the East and the West – whilst Western Europe saw a large amount of countries considered by the report to be “full democracies”, Eastern Europe did not feature once in that category with the region, instead filling into the “flawed democracy” category.

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A rise of identity politics, meaning politicians using group identities such as race or gender as a mode of pushing their policies, and of “strongman” leaders are said to pose a strong risk that the institutions of representative democracy will be weakened further. Alternatively, a strengthening of political institutions, and a tackling of the issues of transparency, accountability and corruption, would go some way towards improving confidence in democracy and democratic values.

Malta in 18th place

Malta’s overall score rose from 8.15 to 8.21 in the rankings, scoring high in “electoral process and pluralism” (9.17), “functioning of government” (8.21), “political culture” (8.75), and “civil liberties” (8.82).

The category in which Malta gained its points was in ‘civil liberties’, where Malta rose from 8.53 in 2017, to 8.82 in 2018.

Malta’s position was held down due to a low 6.11 ‘political participation’ score. Although this figure is open to interpretation as countries such as Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, and a myriad of countries which are frequently accused of legitimately discriminate against their citizens in numerous ways scored higher.

In fact, the criteria for one’s score in ‘political participation’ rested on nine questions which addressed various factors such as things from voter turnout and party membership, to adult literacy and the percentage of women in parliament.

The low score is potentially due to the fact that Malta has seven women currently serving as MPs in a parliament of 67 members, which when taking into consideration that a number the nations with higher scores than Malta in this category are amongst the world’s worst abusers of human rights, raises the question of whether there is a connection between the number of women in parliament and the state of democracy in the nation.

Labour Party

The Labour Party welcomed the statement, saying that Malta remained in the small group of 20 countries that are considered as being full democracies.

 

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