Vietnam among group of “authoritarian” countries on Global Democracy Index

Bac Giang Cinema and Culture Center displays propaganda posters at 3-2 Square.

The new Global Democracy Index 2021, released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), continues to classify Vietnam as a group of “authoritarian” countries in the context of worldwide democracy being reversed and dictatorships restored over the past year.

Vietnam ranks 131 out of 167 countries and territories on the index of the EIU, research, and analysis group of the Economist Group, with increasing rankings for countries with the least democracy. Along with China, North Korea, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Afghanistan, Vietnam is in the group of 7 “authoritarian” countries of Asia.

Vietnam scored only 2.95 on a 10-point scale, while the average Democracy Index in the region is 5.46 and globally is 5.28. Norway is the country with the highest democracy index with 9.75 points. The EIU’s assessment, released on February 10, is based on five criteria: electoral process and pluralism, government performance, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties.

Vietnam, ruled by the Communist Party, scores nothing on electoral processes and pluralism. Indicators of government activity, political participation, and civil liberties are also very low. Political culture is the category that Vietnam has the highest score when scoring 5 points.

Since the EIU launched the Democracy Index in 2006, Vietnam has always been among the world’s least democratic countries and is considered a dictatorship.

According to the EIU, democratization declined sharply in 2021, with the proportion of people living in democracies falling below 50% and authoritarian regimes, including China and Vietnam, increasingly being consolidate. The EIU’s latest report shows that democracy has experienced its biggest annual decline since 2010 when the global financial crisis led to major setbacks.

The report further states that China’s repression of Hong Kong and Xinjiang, as well as the collapse of the civilian government in Myanmar, and the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, were contributing factors to the consolidation of authoritarian regimes in Asia. In addition, according to the EIU, governments have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to restrict freedom of movement, association, and expression, and use it as an excuse to rein in dissenting voices as well as restrain the opposition.

Vietnam has been ranked by Human Rights Watch as one of 83 governments around the world using the COVID-19 pandemic to justify violations of the people’s right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Vietnam has not yet commented on the EIU report, but then-Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at a joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in October 2018 in Vienna said that “Vietnam is a democratic country. We condemn all dictatorships.”

EIU statistics show that there are 59 authoritarian countries around the world in 2021, an increase of 2 from the previous year. Two new authoritarian states were recorded in Eastern Europe, and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the EIU’s statistics on 165 independent countries and 2 territories, the top 5 democracies in the world include Norway, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden and Iceland, in order from top to bottom. The United States is not in the group of countries with “complete democracy” but in the group of countries with “flawed democracy.” Meanwhile, the group of 5 countries at the bottom of the table with the lowest democracy index, also means that they are authoritarian regimes, including Afghanistan, Myanmar, North Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. Of these, three are in Asia.

Out of a total of 28 countries in Asia and Australia, 5 are fully democratic, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. The region is home to ten countries with flawed democracies – including Malaysia, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand – and six polities in transition, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Fiji, and Hongkong, Nepal and Pakistan.

Developed countries in Western Europe continue to make up the majority of full democracies as 12 out of 21 will fall into this category in 2021. (Translated)


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