Diagnoses of a crisis of democracy are as old as democracy itself; they are a common theme in the political discourse of the Western world. However, until now there was no instrument that allowed a systematic measurement of the quality and stability of democracy in highly developed industrialized countries across national borders and over long periods of time. A democracy barometer that has analyzed the development of the most important aspects of the world’s thirty foremost democracies since 1990 has now been presented at the University of Zurich.
The barometer uses 100 empirical indicators to measure how well a country complies with the three democratic principles of freedom, equality and control as well as the nine basic functions of democracy. The comparison of thirty established democracies between 1995 and 2005 has revealed that Denmark is leading the way, followed by Finland and Belgium. “In the comparison, the lowest quality is exhibited by the democracies in Poland, South Africa and Costa Rica,” says Marc Bühlmann from the University of Zurich. While Italy, as might be expected, finds itself towards the bottom end of the scale, it is surprising that Great Britain (26th) and France (27th) are also so far down the ranking. Equally surprising is the fact that Switzerland (14th) is only mediocre and lags behind 11th- placed Germany.Quality of democracy on the rise
The democracy barometer registers the differences in the quality of political participation, representation and transparency as well as those concerning the rule of law, individual liberties or the ability of a government to actually implement democratic decisions. If the countries are viewed as a whole, an increase in the quality of transparency and representation becomes apparent, but so does a slight decline in the rule of law. The positive trend can be attributed – among other things – to the ever-better integration of women in the political process and the increase in transparency virtually forced into being by citizens, audit divisions, ombudsmen, NGOs and the media. On the other hand, the rule of law is losing ground due to an increasing unequal treatment of minorities. Here, too, there are major differences between the individual countries. Positive developments are apparent in younger democracies such as South Africa and Cyprus, which are making up a lot of ground in terms of developing and protecting personal liberties, whilst a decline was evident in George W. Bush’s America and Silvio Berlusconi’s Italy.
”Democracy is still a work in progress,“ say the two project leaders Marc Bühlmann (Zurich) and Prof. Wolfgang Merkel (Berlin). Sustainable democratization is needed, even in established democracies.” Our democracy barometer shows the strengths and weaknesses of the democracies in the individual countries. But it also reveals where progress and success have been achieved and where it is worth studying the best practices of successful democracies more closely,” say Merkel und Bühlmann.Contact:
Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center
The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences