Monday, February 14, 2022

Economist Lists USA as a "Flawed Democracy"

Every year or so the Economist releases it's "democracy index report". This year - as last year - the United States is listed as a "Flawed Democracy".

Select the image to get a more detailed view.

The US did better than expected because even with the Jan 6th insurrection, the Biden Presidency happened on time. Other reasons for the US low score are:

  • Gerrymandered districts that are uncompetitive. This allows 50 / 50 states to send delegations to the House of Representatives that are grossly different from the actual state vote. It also undermines the idea of 1 person / 1 vote are equal to all others.
  • Winner of popular vote doesn't always translate to winner of the election.
  • Voting Restrictions are on the rise (example: see the primary underway in Texas).
  • Single Representative districts. Results better represent votes when the top two or three candidates (and often from different political parties) are selected. Single representatives per district work to allow only 2 or 3 parties to successfully compete. Example: 2 in the US, 3 in England, Scotland and Wales. 
I found this interesting because it was flagged from a website in Spain that lamented that Spain's democracy has fallen to the level of "flawed" democracies like Estonia, the United States and Greece. It was a bit of painful truth about our country and how it is seen by much of the world.


  1. Inquiring minds want to know what are Canada, Australia, Japan, and Sweden doing that make them full democracies? Is it just popular vote wins?

  2. Most of these are parliamentary systems.
    In Canada, this means you vote for your representative and they go to Congress (I am using US terms, but you get it.). The party with a majority in Congress then picks the Prime Minister - often no one party has a majority in these systems, and you often have coalitions of parties running the government. The Senate is appointed from a list provided by the Prime Minister. The winner of the local election is the person who gets the plurality of votes, a majority is not required. It turns out that a plurality system does a fantastic job of enabling smaller parties. Small differences in the other systems. Sweden you vote for a party list usually and they select the Representatives. In Australia, voting is required of all citizens and is a weekend party outside of polling stations after the vote.They also use ranked choice voting, so if your candidate doesn't get a majority, they use 2nd or 3rd ranked choices to find a winner (Maine just started doing this as well)
    What they all have in common is (1) week-end voting - which enables many more people to be able to vote. We are one of the VERY few countries that votes during the week - which decreases participation. (2) The Prime Minister (President) is selected by the winning party. (3) A deadlock in the legislatures result in a new election. This is because the majority party has a lock on the government, so any deadlock means that the party is in disarray.(4) Each person represents many fewer people and so is more responsible to them. The United states used to increase the Congressional size as the population increased but we stopped that in 1929. So their Representative to population is:
    Canada = 1 for every 112,455 people
    Australia = 1 for every 170,000 people
    Sweden = 1 for every 28,000 people (!)
    USA = 1 for every 757,500 people


The tale of Chiselborough

 Our second dog sit in England this past month was in Chiselborough. Which is a village of about 100 - 125. It was in the middle of nowhere....