Costa Rica is one of only 20 full democratic countries on the planet, according to the eleventh edition of The Economist´s Democracy Index. ¨The EIU Democracy Index provides a snapshot of the state of world democracy for 165 independent states and two territories. The Democracy Index is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Based on their scores on 60 indicators within these categories, each country is then itself classified as one of four types of regime: full democracy; flawed democracy; hybrid regime; and authoritarian regime¨.
Only 20 countries (12% of the countries, representing 4.5% of the world population) were classified as full democracies by the internationally-renown publication: ¨The developed OECD countries of Europe and North America continue to dominate among the world’s “full democracies”; there are also the two Australasian countries (but no Asian ones), two Latin American countries (Uruguay and Costa Rica) and one African country (Mauritius)¨. Costa Rica came in second place in the regional ranking behind Uruguay.
This is the first year that Costa Rica joins the ranks of ¨full democracies,¨ rising three places on the annual index, from 23rd to 20th. This move signifies a change from flawed democracy to full democracy. The best scores that Costa Rica achieved was in the ‘Electoral Process and Pluralism’ category and the ‘Civil Liberties’ category, while the worse score was in ‘Political Participation,’ which still was an improvement on previous years.
¨Whilst clearly disillusioned with formal political institutions, the population has turned anger into action, and turned out to vote, and to protest. The most striking advance has been in the participation of women – in the past decade the indicator has improved more than any other single indicator in our model. This improvement takes place amid a deterioration of trust in democracy, evident in the worsening of most categories in this year’s Index,¨ states the report.
President Alvarado Quesada, currently attending Davos for the first time after becoming President in May 2018, spoke on a panel alongside counterparts from Ecuador and Colombia about the “human-centered future” of Latin America. “I think it was very important to show Latin America is committed not only to economic and human development, but also to the international community,” he says. “To support multilateralism, especially in these times.”
According to a Time Magazine interview from the international conference, Alvarado is “something of a rarity in the region.” He is a left-of-center champion of social values whose support for same-sex marriage helped win him the presidency.
“Costa Rica is a beacon of relative economic and political stability in a region known for high poverty and corruption. The nation of 5 million has seen steady growth for a quarter-century and has one of the lowest poverty rates in Latin America. Its leaders are mostly centrist, and the threat of military involvement in government is moot: Costa Rica scrapped its armed forces in 1948. ‘We believe in strong human rights, strong institutions, free press, gender equality,’ Alvarado Quesada says. ‘The best way to lead is by example. To show what’s possible and what’s good.'” (quote from Time article)