Taiwan has been ranked Asia’s No. 1 “full democracy,” jumping three places in the 2021 Democracy Index rankings from the previous year, a report released on Thursday by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said.
Globally, Taiwan has climbed to the No. 8 position, from 11th in 2020, scoring 8.99 out of 10, the EIU report showed.
Regionally, Taiwan was ranked ahead of Japan and South Korea.
“Asia and Australasia have five ‘full democracies,’ including three Asian ones (Japan, South Korea and Taiwan), alongside Australia and New Zealand,” the report said.
The EIU bases its findings on five factors: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation and political culture.
The factors are used to assess the state of democracy in 167 countries and regions worldwide.
Based on a range of indicators, each country is given an overall score out of a maximum of 10, and is classified as a “full democracy,” “flawed democracy,” “hybrid regime” or “authoritarian regime.”
The developed countries of Western Europe continued to dominate globally last year, with 12 of 21 ranked as “full democracies,” the EIU said.
Taiwan was the only Asian country in the top 10, while Norway topped the global rankings with a score of 9.75, followed by New Zealand (9.37), Finland (9.27), Sweden (9.26), Iceland (9.18), Denmark (9.09) and Ireland (9.0).
Australia and Switzerland were tied in ninth place with a score of 8.9, ahead of the Netherlands (8.88), Canada (8.87), Uruguay (8.85), Luxembourg (8.68) and Germany (8.67), which were ranked 11th to 15th.
The US was ranked 26th and classified as a “flawed democracy.”
The EIU said that the number of “full democracies” fell from 13 in 2020 to 12 last year, with Spain ranked 24th and slipping into the same rank as the US.
In the bottom positions were North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan, placing 165th to 167th.
The report mentioned the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on freedom around the world.
“The pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented withdrawal of civil liberties among developed democracies and authoritarian regimes alike, through the imposition of lockdowns and restrictions on traveling and, increasingly, the introduction of ‘green passes’ requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for participation in public life,” it said.
The EIU’s first Democracy Index report was issued in 2006.
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