Hong Kong barely passes as 'flawed democracy'

Local | Cindy Wan 23 Jan 2020

Hong Kong has slipped a further two places in a 2019 democracy ranking to a joint 75 out of 167 countries amid a deterioration in political stability, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The SAR tied with Singapore - both bagged only 6.02 out of 10 points on the democracy index in the latest report released yesterday.

Records show that Hong Kong followed a sizable cumulative decline for the previous four years, having scored 6.15 points in 2018.

The city was again classified as "a flawed democracy." If it had scored six or lower, the classification would have fallen to a hybrid regime of democracy or authoritarianism.

The index was generated based on 60 indicators in five categories on a scale of 10. Hong Kong scored 3.58 in electoral process and pluralism, 4.36 on the functioning of government, 6.11 on political participation, 7.50 on political culture and 5.83 on civil liberties.

The report noted that the city-wide protest movement had tapped into concerns about the increasing influence of the central government on local matters, including those pertaining to freedom of expression.

"An aggressive response by the police during early, mainly peaceful protests, led to a marked decline in confidence in government - the main factor behind the decline in the territory's score," the EIU said.

"The only indicator in the index that improved in 2019 was for political engagement, as evidenced by the unprecedented voter turnout in local district elections."

The report called 2019 "a testing year for democracy in Asia," given the difficulties in consolidating democracy in many developing Asian countries.

China ranked 153 - close to the bottom - for scoring only 2.26 points due to intensifying discrimination against ethnic minorities. "Digital surveillance of the population continued apace in 2019, representing a further constraint on individual freedoms," the report added.

The mainland scored a zero in electoral process and pluralism, 4.29 on the functioning of government, 3.33 on political participation, 2.50 on political culture and 1.18 on civil liberties.

Meanwhile, Taiwan was ranked 31 and classified "a flawed democracy," with exemplary scores of 9.58 points on electoral process and pluralism and 9.12 points on civil liberties.

cindymt.wan@singtaonewscorp.com

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