Spain is a ‘flawed democracy’ according to The Economist

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flawed democracy

 MADRID – In 2021, a ‘new low in democracy has been reached’ worldwide, according to The Economist. This is mainly the result of measures against the spread of the corona pandemic. Spain is also having bad results and now appears in the category “flawed democracy”.

The Economist’ considers Spain a ‘flawed democracy’ because of the lack of renewal of the General Council for the Judiciary (CGPJ), the highest judicial body in the country. Consequently, this is taking its toll on Spain’s democratic quality, according to the British weekly. The mandate of the CGPJ has already expired three years ago.

In a report published this week by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Spain falls from the category of ‘full democracies’ to the category of ‘defective democracies’. That decrease is a result of the lack of renewal of the highest governing body of the judges. This jeopardises the independence of the judiciary and increases the risk of politicisation of the judiciary.

Flawed Democracies

The annual report, published by The Economist, analyzes democracies around the world. The researchers do this on the basis of 60 indicators, which are subdivided and scored in 5 different categories. These are democracies at different levels: “full democracies”, “defective democracies”, “hybrid regimes” and finally “authoritarian regimes”. “Deficient democracies” are democracies with free elections, but with “problems” and “significant weaknesses” in some aspects, such as political participation or governance.

Spain was already on the brink of losing the category of full democracy in 2017. At that time, the country was in the midst of the Catalan independence crisis. This year the time has come with a small margin of points. In 2020, according to this study, Spain has gone from 8.12 to 7.94 and that means relegation to the category of defective democracy.

Failure to renew the CGPJ

This is based on the lack of renewal of the CGPJ. On several occasions, this renovation has been broken off. The People’s Party PP and the socialist PSOE could not agree on the appointments. PP leader Pablo Casado blocked the negotiations by the veto of candidates Casado’s party blocked the negotiations by the veto of candidates. These mainly concerned candidates from coalition partner Unidas Podemos.

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Decrease score on independence of the judiciary

“Spain’s decline in 2021 is mainly the result of a fall in its score on the independence of the judiciary, linked to political divisions over the renewal of new magistrates in the General Council of the Judiciary,” the report says. The government did not renew the Council since 2018 and did not reach an agreement on its renewal. 

Increasing parliamentary fragmentation

The report also adds: “Spain is suffering from increasing parliamentary fragmentation, a series of corruption scandals and growing nationalism in Catalonia”. These pose challenges for the country’s governance, according to the study.

Spain only European country to drop in ranking

The survey shows that last year Spain and Chile were the only countries in the world to lose the “full democracy” category. Moreover, Spain is also the only European country to fall in this ranking.

“However, most countries saw their scores drop slightly. The report explains this is “due to the ongoing political impact of the coronavirus pandemic,” 

In the top 3, we find Norway, Iceland, and Finland.

Global score to new low

More than a third of the world’s population lives under authoritarian rule, while only 6.4% enjoy full democracy. The global score fell from 5.37 to a new low of 5.28 out of ten. The only comparable decline since 2006 was in 2010 after the global financial crisis.

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