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The State of World Democracy in January 2016

We present our sixteenth annual survey of democracy, where we review those 150 of the world's nations with a minimum one million population, by the criteria of Human Rights, Political Rights, Freedom of the Media and [Absence] of Corruption.  We are indebted to Freedom House and Transparency International for the use of their data, as we have been each year throughout the millennium.

Nations are shown in four divisions, determined by their Human Rights and Political Rights records.  Within each of those divisions their ranking is the result of Media freedom scores and those of Corruption - its absence or otherwise. 

We give league tables to measure each of these, and the final democratic score.

The methodology used is described in the sidebar notes of the Democracy Table.

Neither the US nor the UK make the top ten - although close.

Consistently, as in every annual report we have done, the Scandinavian nations come top.  This year Denmark is the no. 1 position; Finland is no.2 and Sweden is 3rd. 

Congratulations to them all!

As well as nation states we show democratic rankings in sidebar panels for political/military/economic/regional groupings via their current membership: OECD, EU, NATO, G8, ASEAN, APEC, THE AFRICAN UNION, THE ARAB LEAGUE & LATIN AMERICA.

Overview of World Democracy;
Primus Inter Pares;
The Perils of Mass Migration;
World Audit's 2015 Winners and Losers


This year as ever, now our sixteenth annual World Audit, we note the huge differences between the annual performance measured by democratic criteria of the world’s largest 150 nations (population exceeding one million).

Key democratic elements, Human Rights and Political Rights make up the Division in which nations are placed. Within these 4 divisions we display ‘Press Freedom’ a reliable measurement of Freedom of Speech; together with Public Corruption determining the ranking within that division.

We are glad to reiterate our gratitude for our use of their data and for our longtime friendship since our beginnings with the new millennium, to both Freedom House (the world’s first NGO); and to Transparency International for the use of their Corruption Index. For further information on methodology, see the marginal note on the World Audit stats page below.

Our Four Divisions reflect that the 1st (29) and 2nd Divisions (6), together totalling (35), are fully democratic by these criteria. Again the top 20 are generally the same nations every year, only slightly shuffled over the years since our foundation. Once again the Scandinavians – Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway sweep up the top 4 places, with New Zealand, Netherlands and Switzerland as always, in close pursuit. Broadly the anecdotal experience of visitors to these countries which our readers may share, is that here they ‘have cracked it,’ where it comes to ordering a nation and achieving the greatest good for the greatest number.

It may well be that the larger populated, fully democratic nations, thus Germany(10), UK(13), USA(15), Japan(16),France(19) which inevitably have larger bureaucracies and management systems, are simply less sensitive to ordinary people’s needs and concerns. That national legislatures are more prone to being influenced by big business and powerful non-democratic influences. Or again, that the key is in the public corruption rankings , which with exceptions, appears to be broadly parallel to overall democratic ranking. Corruption certainly appears more significantly present in the larger democracies, than in the smaller democracies that consistently lead the pack.

Yet the truly alarming statistic is the inferential one, that of the world’s 150 leading nations by population, here in the first quarter of the 21st Century, only 35 can be described as fully democratic! A large majority 115 have yet to achieve that desirable state of affairs.

Localised wars and other violence, smashed-up homes, famine, tyranny, persistent unemployment, all provide the personal provocation and raw material for the present mass migration, which even now in January 2016, is seen as their ’solution’ by many of the individual displaced; and as ‘the problem,’ for which the western nation states and world institutions are just not prepared, leading to a denial everywhere of any responsibility, or planning for the future.


The State of World Democracy in January 2016

World Audit's 2016 World Democracy Rankings (150)


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World Audit Bulletin, 1st January 2016|New Nations - a not for profit company
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Clive Lindley - Publisher
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