Which countries in Latin America are the most and least democratic?
by Constanza Hola Chamy
Latin America “is unable to progress in democratization” and only two countries in the region -Uruguay and Costa Rica qualify as “full democracies” according to a report from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EUI) conducted for the BBC.
The study attempts to quantify with an index ranging from 0-10 the state of liberal democracy in 165 independent states and two territories.
Countries are classified into four categories: those with “full democracies” which are “flawed democracies”, those with “hybrid” models and “authoritarian regimes”.
To reach their conclusions, the researchers evaluated not only the classic access to the polls, but five factors: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functionality government, political participation and political culture.
“We chose these criteria to give a stronger, wider and stronger definition than just having elections and have respect for civil liberties,” says Irene Mia, Regional Director for Latin America at EIU, to BBC.
And under those parameters, Latin America experienced a setback for the index of the previous year.
“Despite democratization in Latin America in recent decades, many countries in the region have fragile democracies,” reads the report.
However, among experts there is no consensus on how to define nor less, measure-democracy.
According to the EIU study in Latin America “levels are generally low political participation and democratic culture is weak.”
Most of the countries in the region, according to the study, has established “free and fair elections” and respect for civil liberties.
In fact, in both, Latin America is better than their counterparts in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe positions.
But the democratic process is stalled, says the document.
Another category that identifies the EIU index is “hybrid regimes”.
In these systems exist, according to the study, substantial irregularities in elections usually take them away to be free or fair, the government pressure on opposition parties have serious and more prevalent than the imperfect democracies weaknesses.
Furthermore, in these countries, the rule of law is weak and the judiciary is not fully independent.
The EIU part of this group to Ecuador (5.87), Honduras (5.84), Guatemala (5.81), Bolivia (5.79), Nicaragua (5.32) and Venezuela (5.07).
[to read the full report in Spanish, please use the link below]