For the eighth consecutive year, Freedom House has found that democracy has continued to decline. While we certainly see an obvious lack of democracy in certain parts of the world, it is interesting to note that many places, especially where the United States has tried to help, have reversed in their efforts of freedom and democracy; specifically Egypt. Fifty-four countries see overall declines; fourteen more than those who improved and saw minimal gains. Unsurprisingly, countries given the worst “freedom scores” where found in the Middle East, North Africa, and North Korea. In general, the countries that continue to be stable democracies tend to be located within Western Europe and North America. While it’s obvious that Freedom House processes their information through political rights and civil liberties, it seems relatively difficult to be fully able to judge which countries are free and democratic.
This seems especially true after discussing the many different, and accepted, terms of democracy. While we may think that the United States is an extremely successful and free democracy, other nations might consider that to be completely untrue considering our lack of universal healthcare, sometimes questionable public education system, and the levels of unemployment and homelessness. It’s easy enough to say we are free and democratic from Dahl’s description, it may not necessarily be true from another point of view; although in reference to Freedom House’s methodology it does feel that their definition is well represented.
An interesting way of looking at this might be to consider China, a country that many would consider to be democratic and free. They have elections just as we do and the people are free to go about their every day lives, acting as they wish, in the jobs they want to be in, spending their money how they want, and generally acting of free will. However, China also “disparages” religious believers and actually bans them from the CCP, which has been leading since 1949 and have never actually faced a competitive election despite annual democratic elections. They also don’t have freedom of speech and a multiparty system. In this way, we can see how and why Freedom House rates countries as they do, but it still ends up being subjective as to what definition we accept and see as accurate and can be prone to errors regardless.
News Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/02/china-communist-party-atheism-zhejiang-ban-religious-members-christianity_n_6599722.html?ir=WorldPost