These are the best democracies in the world — and the US barely makes the list

US President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2018.

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US President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2018.
source
Carlos Barria/reuters

Less than 5% of the world’s population lives in a “full democracy,” according to a new report ranking countries by how functional their political systems are.

The Economist Intelligence Unit released on Wednesday its 2017 Democracy Index, which ranks 167 countries on a 0 to 10 scale. Only countries with scores above 8 are categorised as “full” democracies.

The US was downgraded from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” in the same study last year, which cited the “low esteem in which US voters hold their government, elected representatives, and political parties.”

The study has five criteria: Whether elections are free and fair (“electoral process and pluralism”), governments have checks and balances (“functioning of government”), and whether citizens are included in politics (“political participation”), support their government (“political culture”), and enjoy freedom of expression (“civil liberties”).

Scroll down to see the world’s best democracies.


1. Norway — 9.87/10

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Oslo, Norway.
source
franganillo/Flickr

Electoral process and pluralism: 10.00

Functioning of government: 9.64

Political participation: 10.00

Political culture: 10.00

Civil liberties: 9.71


2. Iceland — 9.58

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Reykjavik, Iceland.
source
Getty Images/Spencer Platt

Electoral process and pluralism: 10.00

Functioning of government: 9.29

Political participation: 8.89

Political culture: 10.00

Civil liberties: 9.71


3. Sweden — 9.39

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Stockholm, Sweden.
source
tarquingemstone/Flickr

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.58

Functioning of government: 9.64

Political participation: 8.33

Political culture: 10.00

Civil liberties: 9.41


4. New Zealand — 9.26

caption
The New Zealand countryside.
source
Shutterstock

Electoral process and pluralism: 10.00

Functioning of government: 9.29

Political participation: 8.89

Political culture: 8.13

Civil liberties: 10.00


5. Denmark — 9.22

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Copenhagen, Denmark
source
Ppictures / Shutterstock

Electoral process and pluralism: 10.00

Functioning of government: 9.29

Political participation: 8.33

Political culture: 9.38

Civil liberties: 9.12


=6. Republic of Ireland — 9.15

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Dublin, Republic of Ireland.
source
Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.58

Functioning of government: 7.86

Political participation: 8.33

Political culture: 10.00

Civil liberties: 10.00


=6. Canada — 9.15

caption
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
source
REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.58

Functioning of government: 9.64

Political participation: 7.78

Political culture: 8.75

Civil liberties: 10.00


8. Australia — 9.09

caption
The Sydney Opera House, Australia.
source
Getty Images

Electoral process and pluralism: 10.00

Functioning of government: 8.93

Political participation: 7.78

Political culture: 8.75

Civil liberties: 10.00


=9. Finland — 9.03

caption
Helsinki, Finland.
source
Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock

Electoral process and pluralism: 10.00

Functioning of government: 8.93

Political participation: 7.78

Political culture: 8.75

Civil liberties: 9.71


=9. Switzerland — 9.03

caption
Bern, Switzerland.
source
Wikimedia Commons

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.58

Functioning of government: 9.29

Political participation: 7.78

Political culture: 9.38

Civil liberties: 9.12


11. The Netherlands — 8.89

caption
Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
source
Shutterstock

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.58

Functioning of government: 9.29

Political participation: 8.33

Political culture: 8.13

Civil liberties: 9.12


12. Luxembourg — 8.81

caption
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.
source
Flickr/Wolfgang Staudt

Electoral process and pluralism: 10.00

Functioning of government: 8.93

Political participation: 6.67

Political culture: 8.75

Civil liberties: 9.71


13. Germany — 8.61

caption
German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin in January 2018.
source
Thomson Reuters

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.58

Functioning of government: 8.21

Political participation: 8.33

Political culture: 7.50

Civil liberties: 9.41


14. United Kingdom — 8.53

caption
Westminster, London.
source
Shutterstock

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.58

Functioning of government: 7.50

Political participation: 8.33

Political culture: 8.13

Civil liberties: 9.12


15. Austria — 8.42

caption
Vienna, Austria.
source
Alexander Koerner/Getty

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.58

Functioning of government: 8.21

Political participation: 8.33

Political culture: 6.88

Civil liberties: 9.12


16. Mauritius — 8.22

caption
Port Louis, Mauritius.
source
Peter Kuchar via Wikimedia Commons

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.17

Functioning of government: 8.21

Political participation: 5.56

Political culture: 8.75

Civil liberties: 9.41


17. Malta — 8.15

caption
Valletta, Malta.
source
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.17

Functioning of government: 8.21

Political participation: 6.11

Political culture: 8.75

Civil liberties: 8.53


18. Uruguay — 8.12

caption
Montevideo, Uruguay.
source
Flickr/Jimmy Baikovicius

Electoral process and pluralism: 10.00

Functioning of government: 8.93

Political participation: 4.44

Political culture: 7.50

Civil liberties: 9.71


19. Spain — 8.08

caption
Madrid, Spain.
source
Shutterstock/LucVi

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.17

Functioning of government: 7.14

Political participation: 7.78

Political culture: 7.50

Civil liberties: 8.82


20. South Korea — 8.00

caption
Seoul, South Korea.
source
Flickr via mariosp

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.17

Functioning of government: 7.86

Political participation: 7.22

Political culture: 7.50

Civil liberties: 8.24

This is the last “full democracy” on the list.


=21. USA — 7.98

caption
US President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2018.
source
Carlos Barria/reuters

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.17

Functioning of government: 7.14

Political participation: 7.22

Political culture: 8.13

Civil liberties: 8.24


=21. Italy — 7.98

caption
Rome, Italy.
source
Shutterstock

Electoral process and pluralism: 9.58

Functioning of government: 6.43

Political participation: 7.22

Political culture: 8.13

Civil liberties: 8.53