Malta has yet again plummeted to an all-time low since 2006 in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index while retaining its place in the ‘flawed democracy’ category.
The report, titled ‘Democracy Index 2020: In Sickness and in Health?’ placed Malta in 30th place in the most recent global ranking. Two years ago, Malta was ranked 18th.
The index follows a recent ranking by Transparency International in which Malta also hit an “all-time low” in the Corruption Perception Index.
In the decade following 2006, year after year, Malta’s score on the Democracy Index has fluctuated between 8.39 and 8.28. This dropped suddenly to 8.15 in 2017 and increased again in 2018 to 8.21. In 2019 and 2020, the score dropped further to 7.95, then 7.68 respectively, hitting an all-time low in 2020.
Regionally, Malta fell to 17th place out of a total of 21 countries. In Western Europe, only Cyprus, Belgium, Greece, and Turkey were found to have a worse democracy than Malta.
According to the report, while countries that are categorised as flawed democracies have “free and fair elections and, even if there are problems (such as infringements on media freedom), basic civil liberties are respected”. Significant weaknesses are found in aspects of democracy including problems in governance, underdeveloped political cultures, and low levels of political participation.
In 2020, Malta’s weakest spots were ‘political participation’ and the ‘functioning of government’ – with 6.11 and 6.79 points each respectively.
The Democracy Index is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties. Based on its scores on a range of indicators within these categories, each country is then itself classified as one of four types of regime: “full democracy”, “flawed democracy”, “hybrid regime” or “authoritarian regime”.
The report is compiled every year by the EIU, which is the research and analysis division of The Economist Group, one of the world’s specialists in country analysis, risk analysis and industry analysis.
Focusing on “providing a snapshot on the state of democracy worldwide for 165 independent states and two territories”, the Index analyses data across five categories and then classifies each country as one of four types: full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime, and authoritarian regime.
The main focus of the 2020 report was the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on democracy and freedom around the world. According to the study, the pandemic “resulted in the withdrawal of civil liberties on a massive scale and fuelled an existing trend of intolerance and censorship of dissenting opinion”.
The report also examined US democracy “after a tumultuous year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and a hotly contested presidential election”.