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Iceland is world's second most democratic country, study finds

By Staff

  • Democracy worldwide Iceland and Norway top the 2017 index, just like they topped the index in 2016. Photo/The Economist.

Iceland is the world's second most democratic country, according to the Democracy Index 2017. Norway occupies the top spot. Four of the top five spots on the list are occupied by Nordic nations. Finland, the fifth Nordic Country is also in the top ten. The UK is in spot 14 while the US comes in at spot 21.

Highly functioning institutions, public trust in government

The index, which is prepared by the Economist (registration required) is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Based on their scores on 60 indicators within these categories, 165 countries world wide are then classified as one of four types of regime: full democracy; flawed democracy; hybrid regime; and authoritarian regime.

The Report gives Iceland an overall score of 9.58 out of 10. Iceland receives full 10 points on Electoral process and pluralism as well as political culture. Functioning of government and political participation pull Iceland's score down. Iceland receives only 8.89 points on Political participation, and 9.29 on Functioning of government. Norway receives full marks on Political participation and 9.64 on Functioning of government.

Read more: Only 2.8% of Icelandic voters disapprove of history professor turned president

Iceland's performance on those two measures is still significantly better than the US, which only receives a score of 7.14 on Functioning of government and 7.22 on Political participation, reflecting a drop in popular confidence in the functioning of public institutions in the US and low voter turnout. While voter turnout has slipped somewhat in recent years it remains very high in international comparison. There are also some signs that turnout among young voters has been increasing in recent years.

Read more: Dramatic increase in voter turnout among young people in Iceland

World democracy index
Nordics top the list Half of top-10 spots are occupied by the Nordic Countries. New Zealand is the only non-Nordic country in the top-5 Photo/The Economist


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