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Pacific News Minute: How Pacific Countries Rank on Democracy

Santeri Viinamäki
Wikimedia Commons

A new report from a Swedish think tank rates the state of democracy around the world, and ranks 201 countries. Norway and Sweden are listed at one and two.

It’s called the V-Dem report.

V-Dem stands for Varities of Democracy. Assembled by a staff based at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and paid for by Scandanavian, European, Canadian and American donors.

The overall conclusion is that global levels of democracy are still close to an all-time high, but with troubling trends.

There may be more multi-party elections than ever before, but some lose their meaning due to restrictions on: media autonomy, freedom of expression, alternate sources of information and the rule of law. For the first time in many years, the number of countries where democracy advanced is equaled by the number where it declined. The report names six prominent backsliders – Brazil, India, Poland, Russia, Turkey and the United States.

In the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand are in the top 10, Canada comes in at 21, Japan 26, the U.S., South Korea and Taiwan are all in the 30s.

Vanuatu is ranked 42, and gets mentioned as among the countries where democracy is on the rise, Timor L’este is at 64, Indonesia 73, the Solomon Islands 81 – ten places ahead of the Philippines.

Singapore finds itself at 93, Fiji and Papua New Guinea just make it in to the top 100. Malaysia is at 129, though the results of its recent election may lift its standing next year. Russia and China are both near the bottom, and V-Dem lists North Korea as the least democratic country in the world.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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