There are only 19 “fully democratic” countries in the world and the US is not one of them. In fact, nearly all of those countries are based in Europe, according to the latest edition of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual Democracy Index.
The index provides a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide in 2017 by looking at 167 countries, excluding only micro-states. The EIU says the countries in the index include nearly the entire estimated world population. It found that full democracies only cover 4.5% of the world’s people.
Fifty-seven other countries deemed as “flawed democracies” account for 44.8% of the world population. Overwhelmingly, it’s the threat to free speech that has pushed countries such as South Korea, Hong Kong, and France into the flawed category alongside the US.
The EIU says that while the US maintained its position in the rankings as a flawed democracy, the scores can change if Donald Trump “addresses underlying distresses and the issue of distrust,” and that “despite the spread of fake news and not being a full democracy, America still tops the rankings for free speech.”
Around the world, said Joan Hoey, editor of the report, “Freedom of expression faces a threefold threat. The state in democratic and authoritarian countries is deploying defamation, prevention of terrorism, blasphemy and other laws to curb freedom of expression.
“Non-state actors, including militant Islamists, criminal gangs and vested interests use intimidation, threats, violence and murder to stifle free speech. Those claiming the right not to be offended are demanding ‘safe spaces,’ ‘trigger warnings,’ ‘hate speech’ laws and regulation of social media to cleanse public life of alleged offensive content.”