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DEMOCRACY INDEX: BANGLADESH MOVES FOUR NOTCHES UP

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While a large majority of countries recorded a decline in their total score compared to the previous year, Bangladesh fared better in the Democracy Index-2020 released yesterday.

Bangladesh has ranked 76th on the latest index of Economist Intelligence Unit -- four notches up from last year's ranking.

But the country is still classified in the "hybrid regime" category, which means that substantial irregularities often prevent elections from being free and fair, according to the report by the research and analysis division of the Economist Group.

"Government pressure on opposition parties and candidates may be common. Serious weaknesses are more prevalent than in flawed democracies -- in political culture, functioning of government and political participation," the report mentioned as definition of hybrid regime.

"Corruption tends to be widespread and the rule of law is weak. Civil society is weak. Typically, there is harassment of and pressure on journalists, and the judiciary is not independent," the definition further said.

Bangladesh scored 5.99, out of 10, this year to be ranked 76th among 165 countries and two territories. Last year, Bangladesh ranked 80th with 5.88 points among the same number of states and territories.

Among six South Asian countries covered in the report, India and Sri Lanka are ahead of Bangladesh while Pakistan, Bhutan and Nepal are behind. India slipped down two notches on the index compared to previous year, while Nepal remained static and four other countries recorded improvement.

This is the 13th edition of the Democracy Index, which began in 2006. It records how global democracy fared in 2020. It provides a snapshot of the state of democracy in 165 independent states and two territories.

The index is formed based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties.

Based on its scores on a range of indicators within these categories, each country is then itself classified as one of four types of regime: "full democracy", "flawed democracy", "hybrid regime" or "authoritarian regime".

WORST GLOBAL SCORE SINCE 2006

As recorded in the Democracy Index in recent years, democracy has not been in robust health for some time.

Last year, its strength was further tested by the Covid-19 pandemic. The average global score in the 2020 Democracy Index fell to 5.37, down from 5.44 in 2019.

This is by far the worst global score since the index was first produced in 2006.

In 2020, a large majority of countries, 116 of a total of 167 (almost 70 percent), recorded a decline in their total score compared with 2019. Only 38 (22.6 percent) recorded an improvement and the other 13 stagnated, with their scores remaining unchanged compared with 2019.

According to the report, only about half (49.4 percent) of the world's population live in a democracy of some sort, and even fewer (8.4 percent) reside in a "full democracy"; this level is up from 5.7 percent in 2019, as several Asian countries have been upgraded.

More than one-third of the world's population live under authoritarian rule, with a large share being in China.

In the 2020 Index, 75 of the 167 countries and territories covered by the model, or 44.9 percent of the total, are considered to be democracies.

The number of "full democracies" increased to 23 in 2020, up from 22 in 2019. The number of "flawed democracies" fell by two, to 52.

Of the remaining 92 countries in the Index, 57 are "authoritarian regimes", up from 54 in 2019, and 35 are classified as "hybrid regimes", down from 37 in 2019.