Spain is a full, consolidated and modern democracy which gained this status in record time. Due to a tendency of being overly critical, we have forgotten to demonstrate what we have achieved, together as a nation. A country which forty years ago had to shake off the remains of a dictatorship and which has been capable of becoming one of the twenty most recognisable democracies on the planet. This has been demonstrated by many prestigious world indices and reports offering dtaa that supports this.
Year after year, Spain has been climbing up the rankings and putting itself at the forefront in terms of democracy, freedom, equality and the Rule of Law. For instance, our country is ranked 19th on list of 165 countries on the Democracy Index, the annual ranking compiled by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In 2019, Spain obtained a score of 8.08 out of 10.
This index has classified us as one of the 20 full democracies in the world, a classification it shares with countries like Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, Canada, Switzerland and Germany, amongst others, who we often viewed from afar with a mixture of admiration and envy. According to the EIU, coexisting alongside full democracies in the world there are flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.
The Democracy Index was prepared in line with the evaluation of experts who analyse 60 indicators in five categories: electoral processes and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture. When reviewing Spain, the analysts came across a country which respects political pluralism and reflects this in their Parliament; where an independence supporter who wants to leave Spain can defend his or her ideas in the Chambers; where voting is no longer a source of fear, but one of pride; in which the equality of all its citizens, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, origin or sexuality is a legal reality and a political priority.
Another of the indices focusing on democracy is the one drawn up by the Varieties of Democracy Institute in Gothenburg which in May 2018 published its second report on 201 countries. In its latest edition, the institute known as V-Dem identifies “worrying trends” for democracy as for the first time since 1979 the number of countries whose democratic indicators are receding is equal to the number of countries progressing.
Spain is ranked 35th at V-Dem as a liberal democracy and it stands out in terms of equality before the law and individual liberties (14th in the world), as well as legislative constraints on the executive (17), local government (10) and a committed society (9).
The Rule of Law and freedom, the bases for a full democracy
The strengthening of democratic institutions has allowed Spain to progress in another important index; in this case, the Rule of Law Index compiled by the World Justice Project. Spain is ranked 21st in the world, and has moved up two positions from last year. This index takes into account eight factors: respect for citizens’ rights, restrictions on the powers of government, the absence of corruption, the existence of open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice and criminal justice. According to the World Justice Project, the Rule of Law in Spain has continued to make progress in a year in which many countries have dropped in positions in the index. To be precise, 61 countries declined, 23 remained stable and 29 improved, including Spain.
Basic liberites of citizens such as freedom of expression, the possibility of voting for different political parties, freedom of assembly, religious freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of movement etc. is another key aspect to bear in mind when evaluating the state of a country’s democracy. Taking into account these parameters, every year Freedom House prepares its world index on Freedom in the world in which Spain scores 94 out of 100 in the ranking for 2019, ranked 20th amongst the freest countries in the world, ahead of France, Italy, Austria and the UK.
All the indices show that Spain is at the forefront of a modern democracy due to the effort made by the Spanish during these last forty years to uphold the Constitution.
- Democracy Index 2018. The Economist.
- Varieties of Democracy Institute in Gothenburg Report V-Dem.
- Rule of Law Index drawn up by the World Justice Project.
- World index on Freedom in the world Freedom House