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January 30, 2023
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The Economist Democracy Index: Romania Has a Flawed Democracy

Romania is in one of the lowest spots on the Economist Democracy Index for 2021. The Index covers both Eastern and Western Europe, and looking back to the previous years, Romania has not changed its position.

The Index is divided into five sections: election process and pluralism, civil liberties, government functioning, political involvement, and political culture. Each country is categorised into one of four sorts of regimes based on its rankings on a variety of variables within these categories: “full democracy,” “flawed democracy,” “hybrid regime,” and “authoritarian regime.”

Romania has a flawed democracy – what does it mean?

Romania is categorised as a flawed democratic regime country, along with countries like Serbia, Albania, Moldova, North Macedonia, and Montenegro. Romania ranks 61 in the Global Rank behind other democratic countries like Estonia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary.

Flawed democracies are nations where elections are fair and accessible and fundamental civil liberties are honoured but may have issues (e.g. media freedom infringement and minor suppression of political opposition and critics). Other democratic characteristics of these flawed democracy countries are severely flawed, including an underdeveloped political culture, a low level of political involvement, and problems with governance. This is the case in Romania, where citizens no longer trust politicians because of the countless instances of corruption. So it can be seen in these reports over several years.

The Economist Index 2021
Source: EIU

Romania has a score of 9.17 in 2021 for electoral process and pluralism, 6.07 for the functioning of government, 6.11 for political participation, 3.75 for political culture, and 7.06 for civil liberties.

In 2021, the Democracy Index’s average regional score for Eastern Europe was 5.36. According to the Economist, this hasn’t changed since 2020, and the region is the only one that hasn’t had its score drop. Eastern European countries have competitive political systems and free and fair elections. They score well in terms of electoral process and pluralism. Formal democratic institutions, on the other hand, coexist with poor government performance: corruption and lack of transparency are rampant throughout the area, and public trust in governments is low.

Another notable shortcoming is persistently low political culture scores. According to the latest wave of the World Values Survey, many residents in Eastern Europe have little faith in democracy and feel that democratic governance leads to poor economic performance. For this index category, the region’s average score of 4.73 compares to a global average of 5.37 and an average score of 8.04 for western Europe.

Moldova and Montenegro show significant improvements

In 2021, 13 Eastern European countries increased their Democracy Index scores, with Moldova and Montenegro showing the most improvement. Eleven countries saw their scores drop, with the Kyrgyz Republic experiencing the most significant drop. There are no “full democracies” in the region: 16 “flawed democracies” (EU eastern member states and most of the western Balkans), four “hybrid regimes” (Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine), and eight “authoritarian regimes” (Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, and all Central Asian states) exist out of the 28 countries.

Eastern Europe vs. Western Europe

Compared to Eastern Europe, Western Europe’s average regional score fell from 8.29 in 2020 to 8.22 in 2021. The most substantial downward score changes across the region were in the categories of political culture, where the average regional score went from 8.21 to 8.04, and civil rights, where the average regional score fell from 8.53 to 8.43. In political culture, support for “strong” leaders and technocratic governance or expert rule remains strong. Still, there has been some slipping in other areas, such as more significant support for “strong” leaders and technocratic governance or expert rule.

Source: EIU

In the Democracy Index, Western Europe continues to be a top performer. The region has the second-highest average overall score and has the most “full democracies” (12 out of 21). The bulk of the remaining countries is classified as “flawed democracies,” with seven of the eight scoring above 7.50 (the “flawed democracy” classification represents countries scoring above 6.00 and up to 8.00).

Even though western countries like France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Malta, and Belgium are categorised as flawed democratic regime countries, they are way above Romania. The average score of the Western countries in 2021 is 9.50 for electoral process and pluralism, 7.50 for the functioning of government, 7 for political participation, 7.50 for political culture, and 8.50 for civil liberties.

According to the Economist Intelligence ranks, Romania remains stable, and it can be seen, compared to previous years, that the situation in Romania on democracy matter is the same. Economist Intelligence reflex a reality that’s hard to change, unfortunately, especially for Balkan Countries like Romania

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