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Ukraine makes significant leap in global democracy rankings amid war

Ukraine makes significant leap in global democracy rankings amid war Photo: Ukraine rose in the world ranking of democracies (Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)

In 2022, Ukraine rose by 13 positions and is in 73rd place in the World Ranking of Democracies, which was published by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

According to the document, Denmark ranks first among 173 countries, Norway ranks second, and Switzerland ranks third. Russia lost three points and is in 136th place. China shares the latter position.

Decline of democracy

According to Stockholm-based IDEA, half of the world's countries are experiencing democratic decline, from flawed elections to curtailment of rights, including freedom of expression and assembly.

Meanwhile, 2022 marked the sixth year in a row that countries in net decline outnumbered countries in net growth, the longest consecutive decline since records began in 1975.

"In short, democracy is still in trouble, stagnant at best, and declining in many places," says IDEA Secretary-General Kevin Casas-Zamora.

The think tank said the deterioration of democratic foundations, such as elections, parliaments, and independent courts, has led to problems in enforcing the rule of law and holding politicians accountable.

"But while many of our formal institutions like legislatures are weakening, there is hope that these more informal checks and balances, from journalists to election organizers and anti-corruption commissioners, can successfully battle authoritarian and populist trends," he says.

IDEA said the decline should be seen in conjunction with the cost-of-living crisis, climate change, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, which has created huge challenges for many elected leaders.

IDEA bases its indices on the global state of democracy on more than 100 variables and uses four main categories – representation, rights, rule of law, and participation – to classify indicators.

IDEA said Europe remains the highest-performing region in the world, but many established democracies, including Austria, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, have seen significant declines in specific indicators of democratic performance.

It also says that Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, and Turkey have fallen behind the rest of Europe, performing well below the European average on most measures of democracy.

IDEA said that most countries in the Americas have managed to hold credible elections and continue to show average scores in all categories of democracy, although states such as El Salvador and Guatemala have experienced sharp declines recently.

Nevertheless, the think tank said there were also green shoots with surprisingly high levels of political participation and declining levels of corruption, especially in Africa.

Democratic values in Ukraine

The demand for authoritarianism in Ukraine fell twice during the war. In the fall of 2022, only 11.5% of Ukrainians believed that under certain circumstances an authoritarian regime could be better than a democratic one.

According to a survey by the Razumkov Center and the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, support for democracy in Ukraine during the war increased to a historical maximum.