The Economist Democracy Index rates countries on the state of their governing system each year. In the latest installment published today, 23 countries in the world were rated as “full democracies,” including all Scandinavian countries, several Western European nations as well as Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Uruguay, Mauritius, Costa Rica, South Korea and Chile. Japan and Taiwan joined the group of full democracies this year, while France and Portugal went back to flawed status after having spend just one year in the highest section.
Algeria, Mali and Burkina Faso were examples of countries which exited the "hybrid regime" category and became authoritarian. Benin moved in the opposite direction. Laos and Libya moved below the 2.0 threshold to the lowest tier of authoritarian regimes, while Saudi Arabia first surpassed it at a score of 2.08. The EIU stated that overall, democracy around the world hit an all-time low with the average score of countries sinking to 5.37 from 5.44 the previous year.
The countries rated most poorly were North Korea, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The lowest rated European nations were Belarus, Azerbaijan and Russia.