The Economist Intelligence Unit has demoted the United States from a full democracy to a flawed democracy for the first time ever.
Each year, EIU’s Democracy Index provides a snapshot of global democracy by scoring countries in five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture, CNBC reports. Nations are then classified as either a full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime or authoritarian regime.
In a report Wednesday, the EIU said that America’s score fell to 7.98 last year from 8.05 in 2015, which is below the 8.00 threshold for a full democracy. This puts the U.S. on the same footing as Italy, which CNBC notes is a country known for fractious politics.
EIU defines a flawed democracy as a country with free elections but weighed down by weak governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation. Japan, France, Singapore, South Korea and India were also classified as flawed democracies in 2016, according to the report.
While the first instinct would be to point to Donald Trump as the cause of the nation’s downgrade, the EIU says that the U.S. has been on the decline for a while, and dwindling trust in government, elected representatives and political parties is to blame.
“The U.S. has been teetering on the brink of becoming a flawed democracy for several years, and even if there had been no presidential election in 2016, its score would have slipped below 8.00,” the report explained.
“Trust in political institutions is an essential component of well-functioning democracies. Yet surveys by Pew, Gallup and other polling agencies have confirmed that public confidence in government has slumped to historic lows in the U.S. This has had a corrosive effect on the quality of democracy,” the report found.
The EIU said that contemporary democracy is undergoing a crisis as other developed countries experience a similar trust deficit. Almost half of the 167 countries covered by its index registered a decline in overall scores between 2006 and 2016.
Nations whose elections possess several irregularities and who score between 4.00 and 5.9 on the index are classified as hybrid regimes. Turkey, Thailand, Myanmar and Morocco all fall under this category with the EIU.
Meanwhile, Norway topped the list of full democracies, followed by Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, Canada and Ireland.
North Korea, Syria, Chad and the Central African Republic were classified as authoritarian regimes by the EIU.
Read more at CNBC.