Malta has been relegated to a “flawed democracy” after registering its worst score in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index since its inception.
The country becomes just one of five countries in Western Europe that are classified as a “flawed democracy”, joining Italy, Cyprus, Greece, and Belgium. It is the first time Malta has been demoted since 2006.
A critical factor in Malta’s demotion is the descent into political crisis after the Office of the Prime Minister was linked to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Malta ranked high in terms of electoral participation, but it scored poorly in the functioning of government.
While Joseph Muscat resigned as Prime Minister, he refused to step down immediately, choosing to leave at a date of his choosing and even staying on as an MP. Whether his influence over the government will continue remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Robert Abela is already facing serious questions over the case.
Justyne Caruana was forced to resign just five days after being re-appointed after the revelation of her husband’s intimate relationship with Yorgen Fenech, the Tumas Group businessman charged in connection with the murder.
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Globally, democracy is in retreat. In 2019, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index fell to the lowest average since it began in 2006. Just 22 out of 167 countries attained “full democracy” classification. More than 2.7bn people live in an authoritarian regime, the bottom tier of the Democracy Index. Democracy scores for China, Malta and Hong Kong deteriorated, and India, the world’s biggest democracy, dropped ten places to 51st. Still, some silver linings can be detected among the clouds. Which countries have moved up the democracy ranking? Click the link in our bio to find out, and to read why global democracy has had another bad year.
Malta’s score on the EIU index has deteriorated ever since Caruana Galizia was murdered, with the global stage turning its eye to allegations of government corruption in the country.
It follows a global pattern, with the EIU warning that democracy was in retreat.
“If 2016 was notable for the populist insurgency against the status quo in the developed democracies, 2019 was defined in large part by a wave of popular protest in the developing world. Both expressed a demand for more popular sovereignty and better political representation and both hold out the potential for a regeneration of democracy,” Joan Hoey, Director for Europe and editor of the report said.
The report is compiled every year by the EIU, which is the research and analysis division of The Economist Group, one of the world’s specialists in country analysis, risk analysis and industry analysis.