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Democracy thrives, but... Jamaica leads region despite slip in latest democracy ranking

Published:Sunday | December 27, 2015 | 12:00 AMArthur Hall
Jamaican parliamentarians during a joint sitting of both houses earlier this year.

Jamaica has been ranked 50th of the 113 countries included in the latest measure of the state of democracy around the world by the Global Democracy Ranking and leads the regional states with a population of more than one million.

But Professor Trevor Munroe, head of the anti-corruption group, National Integrity Action (NIA), has argued that any celebration should not go overboard.

According to Munroe, while the ranking must be welcomed and appreciated, it shows there is more work to be done.

"Our democracy remains relatively robust in relation to political rights, for example, freedom of the press and civil liberties, freedom of religion," said Munroe.

"Initiatives by civil society, in particular, NIA, the private sector and the Government, have led to some improvement on the important indicator control of corruption used by the World Bank Institute, the World Economic Forum, Transparency International.

"However, the issue of increasing inequality now constitutes a most serious impediment to improving levels of human development in Jamaica, to enhanced observance of the rule of law and, most generally, to strengthening the quality of the country's democracy," added Munroe.




The Democracy Ranking 2015 compares 113 countries with populations above one million, over a period of the years 2010-2011 and 2013-2014 (using more than 40 indicators and scales ranging from 1-100).

The report shows Jamaica ahead of other regional states, Dominican Republic (57), Trinidad and Tobago (58), Guyana (61) and Haiti (102).

Jamaica dropped four points when compared with the 2010-2011 report, with the other states in the region also dropping points, with the exception of Haiti, which inched up by one point. Munroe argued that while the decline is not substantial, it is worrying.

"The decline by itself is not substantial, but becomes real cause for concern to the extent that this is attributable to shortfall in performance of governance related to inequality in income, access to health and gender parity," said Munroe.

"It is, therefore, of the utmost importance and urgency that the issue of inequality be put alongside the question of growth in public discussion and policy reorientation if our democracy is to be enhanced and Jamaica is not to slip further in the global ranking," added Munroe.

The top five countries in the latest democracy ranking are Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark.

Concept and method

The Democracy Ranking model refers to one political dimension and five non-political dimensions, which are:

(1) Gender (socio-economic and educational gender equality);

(2) Economy (economic system);

(3) Knowledge (knowledge-based information society, research and education);

(4) Health (health status and health system);

(5) Environment (environmental sustainability).


The Democracy Ranking aggregates the following dimensions with the following weights:

- Politics 50%

- Gender 10%

- Economy 10%

- Knowledge 10%

- Health 10%

- Environment 10%