The Economist: Democracy in Bulgaria has the Worst Result in 16 years

Politics | February 3, 2023, Friday // 10:54
Bulgaria: The Economist: Democracy in Bulgaria has the Worst Result in 16 years @The Economist

The assessment of the state of democracy in Bulgaria worsens for 2022. The country falls four places down in the world ranking. This is the weakest result for Bulgaria since 2006.

This is contained in the annual ranking of democracy around the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the economic and political analysis arm of the publishers of Economist magazine, founded in 1946.

In it, Bulgaria was assigned 57th place out of 167 countries and territories. It remains in the category of "imperfect democracies", which has collected the largest share of the population in the world - 37.3% of, or almost as much as authoritarian regimes (36.9%). Only 8% of the world's population lives in a true democracy - 24 countries, which is 14.4% of all.

Croatia is the other country in Eastern Europe with a worsening of the result, but in it the descent in the list is by 3 points, while Bulgaria reports the biggest decrease.

After in recent years the authors of the ranking warned that democracy in Bulgaria has stopped developing and has been in stagnation for more than a decade, now they show that the best result (7.14 units on the index) was in 2015.

Bulgaria in the Democracy Index

When comparing with Romania, the role of political stability is clearly visible:

"Romania's index score barely improved (+0.02), while Bulgaria's declined (-0.11) for the third year in a row. Both countries' civil liberties scores improved, but both saw a decline in the political participation. Voter turnout in Bulgaria has been declining for several years; in early elections in 2022 - the fourth in two years - it fell below 40%. As Bulgaria's political crisis deepened and protracted, political fatigue increased and voters alienate even more from political processes. Citizens' engagement with politics has also declined in Romania, but according to Eurobarometer, trust in political parties there has risen. The coalition government that came to power in November 2021 is ruling with relative stability in 2022.”

It's not true that South East Europe is a place where things are improving too slowly - the EIU has placed three countries from the region among the world's Top 10 for achieving the most significant positive change compared to 2021. These are Montenegro, Greece and Albania.

Lots of choices, poor management

This year, Bulgaria with an index of 6.53 units (out of 10 maximum) is placed after Hungary (no change in position compared to 2021) and before Namibia. Among the European countries, Croatia (59th place), Montenegro and Romania (61st), Albania (64th), Serbia (68th) (Moldova 69th), North Macedonia (62nd) and neighboring Turkey is ranked 103rd.

  • Of the five categories forming the overall assessment, Bulgaria performs best in "Electoral process and pluralism" (9.17 units). With exactly the same result are countries like Poland, Croatia, Romania, and slightly better (9.58) are Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the three Baltic republics.
  • But Bulgaria was given one of the low marks (4.38) for "Political culture" - as much as Belarus, Moldova and Tajikistan, but still better than Romania (3.75).
  • With 6.11 units for "Political participation" of the population, Bulgaria is in the company of North Macedonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Croatia. Countries such as Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Moldova and Montenegro have the highest regional index (7.22).
  • For "Civil Liberties" Bulgaria gets 7.65 points, which is clearly lower than the democracies in the Czech Republic (9.12), the Baltic republics (8.82), Slovakia and Slovenia (8.53) and almost on a par with North Macedonia (7.35).
  • According to "Functioning of the government", Bulgaria has the lowest regional indicator (5.36) among the new countries in the EU.

A year of disappointment

"Globally, 2022 was a disappointing year for democracy, given expectations that there could be a rebound in the overall index score as pandemic-related bans were lifted during the year. Instead, the average global score stagnated and remains well below the average before the pandemic," the report added.

"Governments around the world lifted in 2022 many restrictions related to the pandemic, which led to improvements in several indicators in many countries, so it is striking that there is no recovery in the overall score of the index. (...) Overall, the positives and negative changes in the global score offset each other, resulting in an essentially unchanged global average score in 2022 compared to 2021. However, in the context of the lifting of pandemic-induced restrictions on individual rights in 2022, the stagnation in the global result is a disappointment."

Russia recorded the biggest decline in 2022. "Its invasion of Ukraine was accompanied by total repression and censorship at home. Russia has long been on a trajectory away from democracy and is now taking on many of the characteristics of a dictatorship."

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/Dnevnik, The Economist

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