Ten of the world's strongest democracies

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Published 8 months ago

Whether a country is strongly democratic or not can have a significant impact on your move. Have you ever wondered which are the countries that care the most about their citizens' rights and freedom? Expat.com gives you an insight into the Democracy Index 2017 released by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Would you believe it if we told you that only 19 countries in the world are fully democratic – which is barely 4.5% of the global population? From the rest, there are 57 flawed democracies, 39 hybrid regimes and around 52 authoritarian regimes. Unsurprisingly, Nordic countries stand out as the world's strongest democracies while the USA, for example, fell from the full democracy category to the flawed democracy category due to a drastic drop of the Americans' confidence in public institutions over the past two years. A significant score decline was also noted in Europe, especially in Malta, Spain, France, and Turkey.

Norway

Norway
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Being the world's happiest country, Norway is also a very strong democracy as shown by its scores in terms of functioning of government, electrocal process and pluralism, as well as political participation, and political culture. Norway gives a significant importance to its citizens' civil liberties while being a constitutional monarchy with a parliament. The King, a symbol for national unity, remains the head of the Church.

Iceland

Iceland
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Many countries definitely have a lot to learn from Iceland, especially in terms of political culture and the functioning of its government. As a parliamentary republic, Iceland adopted its constitution in 1944 when it became a Republic. Like most Scandinavian countries, Iceland also guarantees its citizens' civil liberties. Moreover, unlike other many European countries, islamophobia is almost non-existant despite its immigrant community.

Sweden

Sweden
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Sweden is both a monarchy and a representative democracy. While the country has adopted a constitution and has a democratic structure that acts at different levels, it also has a king or a queen. However, the monarch has no real power except at ceremonial functions. Since Sweden is part of the European Union, decisions are taken in total transparency at three levels: municipalities, departments, and the State. Moreover, all decisions must take into account the interest of Swedes, based on their opinions.

New Zealand

New Zealand
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New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a political system that is close to the Westminster system. In other words, the monarch has no real power or influence on the current regime. Queen Elizabeth II is represented by a Governor general. New Zealand can thus be described as an independent parliamentary democracy with a government led by its Prime Minister and his cabinet. Being the world's fourth strongest democracy, New Zealand stands out in terms of the functioning of its government and civil liberties. New Zealand was also one of the first countries to have given access to women to very high positions within its government.

Denmark

Denmark
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Often lauded for the functioning of its government, Denmark is a decentralised constitutional monarchy. The executive power is held by the government while the monarch is the Head of the State but with almost no power. Multipartysim and coalition culture are deeply rooted in the Danish political system. The Danish constitution that was adopted in 1849 guarantees fundamental rights including freedom of expression and freedom of association. Laying emphasis on its population's interest, the government is described as being both liberal and conservative.

Ireland

Ireland
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Being a member of the EU, Ireland is a parliamentary republic and the world's 6th strongest democracy. Legislative power is in the hands of the Irish government while the Taoiseach is the head of the State. However, the head of the State and President of the Republic has very limited powers. Ireland performs well in terms of civil liberties political culture, as well as the functioning of its government. Moreover, the Irish constitution, adopted in 1937, can only be amended through a referendum, like it was the case prior to the legalisation of same-sex marriages in May 2015.

Canada

Canada
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Ex-aequo with Ireland, Canada also shows a good score when it comes to civil liberties and the functioning of its government. Canada is both a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of State, and a parliamentary democracy with a federal system. Even though the Canadian political system is based on the Westminster system, the country has developed its own political traditions over the years. The Governor General, representing the Monarch, is appointed by the Queen on a renewable five-year basis. However, the Governor General's powers are strictly limited to the government's recommendations.

Australia

Australia
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A Commonwealth Federal State, Australia is a parliamentary democracy that is also based on the Westminster system just like neighbouring New Zealand. Queen Elizabeth II is the Governor General and Head of the State. Australia can also boast about having a government that performs well, not to mention its fair electoral system and pluralism. Australia guarantees its citizens' civil liberties. Legislative power is held by a bicameral parliament consisting of a Senate with 76 members and a House of Representatives with 150 members who are elected via alternative voting.

Finland

Finland
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Finland is a parliamentary democracy whose power is split among different government departments. The country especially stands out in terms of the functioning of its government and its citizens' civil liberties. You will recall that Finland has not only legalised same-sex mariages but also granted adoption rights to same-sex couples. According to the Finnish constitution, power is in the hands of the Finns that are represented by elected members of parliament. Executive power is in the hands of the parliament while the President of the Republic has a very limited role. You will also be delighted to know that Finland is a very transparent country where corruption is rare.

Switzerland

Switzerland
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Switzerland is especially famous for what we call direct democracy. Ex-aequo with Finland, Switzerland can boast about having an open information culture and a dynamic political culture. Moreover, the population, excluding expatriates, enjoy a very robust right to vote. In general, Swiss nationals are allowed to take part in political decisions at the federal level. In addition to the right to vote, Swiss nationals are also entitled to optional referendum, mandatory referendum, and the popular initiative which are instruments allowing them to voice out their opinions. Needless to say that Switzerland shows a very good score in terms of civil liberties and the functioning of its government.