Despite the fact that Australia has far more politicians per capita than any other country, New Zealand ranks well above in the democracy stakes, according to the Economist magazine.
But both countries can feel some comfort from the fact that each is considered a “full democracy”.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, “less than 5% of the world’s population currently lives in a “full democracy”, and more than 30% endures authoritarian rule”. The Index rated 167 countries scored on a scale of 0 to 10 based on 60 indicators. The sad fact is that the general trend is for a decline in democratic behaviour, what Larry Diamond, a political scientist at Stanford University, described as a global “democratic recession”.
The US meanwhile has slipped into the category of “flawed democracy”, at a lowly 21st on the democracy scale.
The current administration doesn’t merit all the blame for the fall, but obviously it hasn’t helped matters much, as the slide from flawed to more flawed corresponds with the rise of President Trump.
Perhaps more to the point, the UK, the home of democracy, has slipped out of the top ranking, down to the second tier.
While still well ahead of the US, it will no doubt be galled by the fact that its Irish neighbours rank well above it.
Back in the South Pacific, Fiji can take some comfort that it is slowly climbing up the democracy ladder, after slumping to “authoritarian” five years ago. These are encouraging signs.