Israel More Democratic This Year, Index Says

The Knesset building (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel jumped five spaces in this year’s Democracy Index, released annually by The Economist newspaper. Moving up from number 34 last year to 29 this year, the newspaper said that the better ranking was due to the enhanced independence of several institutions and agencies, including the State Budget Examiner and State Prosecutor’s office. Out of ten points, which a “full democracy” would be ranked at, Israel received 7.85 points.

One major issue blocking Israel’s advance in the rankings, said the newspaper, was a “gap in rights” between Israeli Jews and Muslims. Israelis are also lacking in individual rights, according to the rankings, but the country scored high in several other criteria for democracy, including the election process.

The top 19 countries in the rankings are termed “full democracies”, but the United States is no longer one of them. Now ranked 21st, the U.S. is a “flawed democracy,” due to a loss of trust by Americans in the institutions of democracy, including Congress and the federal government.

However, according to Joan Hoey, editor of the report, the election of Donald Trump as President was not the trigger for the downgrading of the U.S.; the index would have reflected a loss of trust even if he had not been elected. “The is not a consequence of Donald Trump,” she said. “On the contrary, the election of Mr. Trump as U.S. president was in large part a consequence of the longstanding problems of democracy in the U.S.”

The top countries include 13 European Union countries, as well as Australia, Japan, Uruguay, New Zealand, Malta, and Mauritius.