The great white north. (Anja Stnsc / Instagram)

Last week, The Economist released its annual Democratic Index, and this year Canada was ranked 6th out of 167 countries.

The index provides insights into the state of democracy in countries around the globe by ranking them based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation, and political culture.

Overall, Canada scored a 9.15 out of 10 for its democratic practices in 2018, which is the same grade we received in 2017.

Having a score above a 9.0 classifies Canada as a “full democracy”, a title we share with only 20 other countries in the world.

A country that is considered a “full democracy” is one “in which not only basic political freedoms and civil liberties are respected, but which also tend to be underpinned by a political culture conducive to the flourishing of democracy,” reads the index.

Qualities like a functioning government, independent media, and an independent judiciary system are all telltale signs of a full democracy says the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Room for improvement

The survey contends that the largest issue that Canada’s democratic process seems to be facing is political participation.

Research cited poor voter turnout, low membership in political parties, and a general lack of political engagement as areas that our country could improve upon.

Compared to others

While Canada was considered 6th out of 167 countries for political freedom, with a score of 9.15 out of 10, our neighbours to the south ranked 25th overall.

The US lost its status as a “full democracy” back in 2016 when it dropped to a “flawed democracy”, and its 2018 Democracy Index score came in at 7.96.

Meanwhile, just ahead of Canada, the top five highest ranked countries in the world are:

  • Norway (9.87)
  • Iceland (9.58)
  • Sweden (9.39)
  • New Zealand (9.26)
  • Denmark (9.22)

On the other end of the scale, these five countries were ranked the lowest on the Democratic Index:

  • Chad (1.61)
  • Central African Republic (1.52)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo (1.49)
  • Syria (1.43)
  • North Korea (1.08)

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