Economist Intelligence Unit: Costa Rica and Uruguay are the only ‘full’ democracies in Latin America

February 9, 2015

An investigation by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) concluded that in Latin America, only Uruguay and Costa Rica ranked in the region’s “full democracies” category, described as when countries respect civil liberties and representative governance.

The Democracy Index 2014 states that Latin America currently “is unable to progress in democratization,” with the exception of Uruguay and Costa Rica.

The report evaluated 165 countries using a 0 to 10 scale in five categories: electoral processes and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties.

The final results were used to classify countries into one of four categories: full democracies, imperfect democracies, hybrid models and authoritarian regimes.

Costa Rica placed 24th with an index of 8.03, behind Uruguay, which ranked 17th at 8.17. At the bottom of the list are Cuba and Haiti, with low rates of 3.52 and 3.82, respectively. The EIU considers them authoritarian regimes.

Chile, Brazil, Panama, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, El Salvador and Paraguay ranked in the second category as “flawed democracies.” Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela entered the rank of “hybrid regimes.”

The investigation concluded that the democratic culture in Latin America in general can be considered as weak.

“Despite progress in Latin American democratization in recent decades, many countries in the region have fragile democracies. Levels of political participation are generally low and democratic cultures are weak. There has also been significant backsliding in recent years in some areas, such as media freedoms,” the report states.

Globally, Norway topped the list as a full democracy with an index of 9.93, followed by Sweden and Iceland at 9.73 and 9.58, respectively. Canada ranked 7th with 9.08, while the United States was 19th with 8.11.

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