Denmark found to be most democratic

A new study co-authored by researchers at Zurich University has found that Denmark, Finland and Belgium have the world’s best functioning democracies.

This content was published on January 27, 2011 - 10:52 and agencies

Switzerland ranked only 14th in the study which compared 30 established democracies over a ten-year period – between 1995 and 2005.

The rankings are found in the “democracy barometer”, a new instrument used to measure the quality of democracy. It was developed at Zurich University and the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).

The authors said the three top-ranked countries best fulfil the functions of democracy, selected from the areas “freedom, equality and control”.

Marc Bühlmann from Zurich University said Swiss democracy was only average because its “system of checks and balances, transparency and participation are only very poorly implemented”. On the other hand, Switzerland is a “model country when it comes to satisfying the criteria of personal liberties, an active citizenship, competition and governmental capability”.

The democracy barometer measures nine quality indicators: the protection of personal freedom from infringements by third parties, especially the state; the rule of law; an active citizenship; transparency; participation; representation; political competition; a system of checks and balances; and the ability to implement democratic decisions.

Bottom of the list are Poland, South Africa and Costa Rica. But some large western European nations also fare poorly: Italy (22), Britain (26), and France (27).

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