Democracy is in retreat, according to the latest edition of the Democracy Index from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). This annual survey, which rates the state of democracy across 167 countries based on five measures—electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties—finds that democracy has been eroded around the world in the past year.
Singapore’s democracy decline was particularly acute – falling 9 spots to 75 in the latest edition of the Democracy Index. This places Singapore at the same level as Hong Kong and below countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Singapore’s raw score also fell from 6.38 out of 10 in 2018 to 6.02 in 2019 – its worst drop since the Democracy Index was introduced. Singapore is classified by EIU as a ‘flawed democracy’, albeit barely; a score below 6 places a country in the ‘hybrid regime’ category.
The EIU cited Singapore’s new fake news law, Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) as the main reason for the decline in Singapore’s 2019 score.
“The government claims that the law was enacted simply to prevent the dissemination of false news, but it threatens freedom of expression in Singapore, as it can be used to curtail political debate and silence critics of the government,”-EIU analysts
Hong Kong, meanwhile, fell three places to rank 75th out of 167 as more than seven months of violent and disruptive protests rocked the Asian financial hub. An aggressive police response early in the unrest, when protests were mostly peaceful, led to a “marked decline in confidence in government — the main factor behind the decline in the territory’s score in our 2019 index,” EIU said.
All statistics taken from EIU. For access to EIU’s full report, click here.