Thursday, November 23, 2006

Singapore ranked 84th in democracy index

According to a democracy index devised by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore is ranked 84th. That rates us as a hybrid regime together with Albania and Russia, worse off than flawed democracies like Indonesia and Hong Kong, but better than all out authoritarian regimes like China and Sudan. Singapore scores are extremely skewed, scoring very badly in the categories of "Political Participation" and "Electoral Process and Pluralism" - scores were even lower than many of the authoritarian regimes, while scoring very highly in the categories of "Functioning of Government", "Political Culture" and "Civil Liberties".

Sweden is ranked number one, and is described as a near-perfect democracy, along with many Scandinavian countries. You can have a look at the complete list here and an explanation of the methodologies here.

While the Singapore government likes to use the high taxation Scandinavian welfare states as a bogeyman against welfarism in Singapore, the truth is that the Scandinavian brand of welfarism is clearly popular with the people, or the people would have dismantled the welfare system via the ballot box. As a further vote of confidence, the birthrate of these highly democratic countries are very high among the developed nations, which, in my opinion, shows that the parents are optimistic about their children's future, as compared to the fearful Singaporean parents.

I do not think the average Singaporean will begrudge higher taxes, if he or she is convinced that the tax money they paid will return to help us when we descend upon hard times. After all, most Singaporeans gladly part with hundreds of dollars every month for life insurance, hoping that it will make a difference when tragedy strikes.

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