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UK & France get poor marks in European democracy ranking

#1
According to a new Swiss-German study UK democracy has many shortcomings

Der Spiegel said:
02/01/2011

International Study
Britain and France Get Poor Marks in Democracy Ranking

By Jill Petzinger

REUTERS​
The mother of all parliaments: Queen Elizabeth at the annual state opening of parliament last year.



Denmark's democracy is in rude health while the political systems of Britain and France have some major shortcomings, according to a new Swiss-German study ranking the quality of democracy in 30 nations. Germany achieves a respectable score but falls short of a top 10 slot.
Germany is more democratic than France, Britain and even Switzerland, according to a study released last week by the University of Zurich and the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), a research institute funded by the German government.


The 'democracy barometer' measures how well 30 established democracies implement the principles of freedom and equality. Denmark gets top marks, while Britain and France are found wanting, ranking 26th and 27th respectively. Costa Rica came last, just ahead of South Africa and Poland. The study spans the years 1995 - 2005. Project leader Wolfgang Merkel of the WZB told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the survey "is designed to go deeper than whether a country holds free and fair elections, but not to go deep into individual governmental policies."
Data has also been collected from a further 40 countries, including South American democracies, and the additional ratings will be released later this year. A major criterion is the extent of control citizens have over their government. Nine other criteria are examined, including the rule of law, transparency of government and participation in the political process.
Germany Ahead of Switzerland
Germany is in 11th place, just behind the US. Germany collected a few extra points because it has a relatively large number of women in parliament and because of its strict separation of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
"The frequent opportunities for veto by the upper house and by the constitutional court restrict the governmental power," says Merkel.
By contrast, women are underrepresented in Switzerland's political system, which ranks at number 16. In addition, Switzerland has a smaller voter turnout among lower-income groups.
Perhaps the most surprising performances are those of Britain and France. "There are relatively few political parties in France," says Mark Bühlmann from Zurich University. He explains that in addition to weak workers' unions there have also been increasing reports of police brutality in France.
British System Flawed


Britain has long enjoyed the reputation of having have the mother of parliaments, but the British system has some significant flaws, the study says. The problems lie mainly in three key areas: majority representation in parliament, which creates distortion between votes and actual seats in parliament, a media that is skewed by private-sector interests, and declining trust in the police. Democracy is work in progress, according to Bühlmann and Merkel: "Our democracy barometer highlights the best practice of some of the most successful democracies, but it does not disguise areas in which progress still needs to be made," they said in a statement.
However, the results are not up to date because the survey focused on the period up to 2005. Belgium, for example, is ranked as the third most democratic country in the group, yet it has now been without a government for more than seven months. Belgium's current problems would cost it a few 'democracy points,' but the country still scores a lot better than most democracies, said Merkel.
jap





 
#3
While we can by no means hold our style of government up to the light of progressiveness the whole study is out of date. The fact that Switzerland had such a dodgy banking industry, backed by the swiss government, alone makes the whole study questionable. I'm quite pleased to see that Germany is high in the table tbh. If they weren't I'd be expecting another lemming like crusade soon.

Plus the Swiss are made to like Gypos ffs!
 
#4
It sounds accurate to me. I don't see the connection between dodgy bankers and a study in democracy. If the is such a connection Britain has plenty of well qualifed people to do a study.
One miserable vote every five years, to elect people who will then ignore us, is not my view of a progressive 21st century democtaric state.
 
#5
Sounds fair enough.

As stolen from someones sig block

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill
 
#6
But then the UK is not, never has been, and never claimed to be, a democracy. We live quite happily in a Monarchy.

Did the cabbage munchers, by any chance, analyse the EU. I think that would be an interesting study in how not to be a Democracy.
 
#7
Interesting to see that Belgium, which regularly struggles to form any Government as the 2 racial groups hate each other, got a higher rating than us !
 
#8
Yes the study is bollocks, and yes it is done by foreigners so double bollocks, but surely no-one is going to try and seriously maintain that a distorted voting system, a media skewed by private business interests and a declining trust in the police are things you don't recognise in the UK today?

And I agree with Rockpile - I think what we have is a pretty piss poor return considering the sacrifices that have been made for it.
 
#9
Of course Germany is more democratic, they have a federal system where each Land has it's own Parliament (Landestag) with a veto at the federal (Bundestag) level. Ulster, Wales and Scotland have similar structures but the vast majority, the English, don't.
 
#10
It sounds accurate to me. I don't see the connection between dodgy bankers and a study in democracy. If the is such a connection Britain has plenty of well qualifed people to do a study.
One miserable vote every five years, to elect people who will then ignore us, is not my view of a progressive 21st century democtaric state.
The connections is a bit of the old hypocrisy and how the study ignores the importance of an accountable banking sector. It's just that economics is the foundation of any government. Oh it's very noble to proclaim defence of the realm but what it really is about is defence of the economy. And who benefits?

It's a point of view, from me, about this study having a scope of reference that can be questioned. I am not defending or suggesting the UK should be higher in the league table. I wouldn't care if we were bottom, truth be told I'd like for us to be bottom then I can gloat a wee bit. It's just that statistics are open to manipulation.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#11
Of course Germany is more democratic, they have a federal system where each Land has it's own Parliament (Landestag) with a veto at the federal (Bundestag) level. Ulster, Wales and Scotland have similar structures but the vast majority, the English, don't.
That's because the reforms brought in under the previous administration were ill concieved drivel that actually decreased the level of democratic accountability in this country and made the Lords an even bigger cesspit of patronage than it was before.

With Scotland, Wales, NI having their own Parliament/Assembly, the Commons should have been made the English Parliament and a fully elected House of Lords the Federal Parliament of the UK. It's so bleeding obvious a child could come up with it.
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
2 questions - why is a declining trust in the police a sign of poor democracy? And how does a study into democratic standards in Europe completely miss the banana republic farce of a house of lords that is appointed by the incumbent political group?
 
#13
Thinking on. Perhaps I and the rest of the untermench should take this study more literal and join our Arab brothers and amass at the steps of Westminster.

Now, where did I put that box of blindfolds.
 
#14
But then the UK is not, never has been, and never claimed to be, a democracy. We live quite happily in a Monarchy.

Did the cabbage munchers, by any chance, analyse the EU. I think that would be an interesting study in how not to be a Democracy.
You probably don't remember Cromwell then. I've never likened our parliamentary system to Saudi Arabia before. I'll give the matter some thought.
 
#15
Fish Soup - I'd have thought the relationship society has with it's police is right at the heart of a quality democracy.

If you believe you are being policed by an over-mighty, over zealous, power hungry, politically motivated, anti-citizen bunch of tossers then that presumably is not what you either voted for, or would have voted for if anyone had given you the chance.
 
#19
The multi tiered federal systems are not without faults, they increase costs drastically and slow down the descision making process, often to a complete stalemate. With more levels of Government in the loop they also invite corruption. Too many fingers in every pie. One feature of the British system is that MPs are accessible, most hold regular constituent surgeries and you have a chance to chin them, my local MP "Landrat" is a very distant figure for most, I only met him personally through hunting. I couldn't even name his federal couterpart, the "Bundesrat."
 
#20
Of course I can. I'm a time traveller. I've been to outer space on many occasions.
If you could nip back to Munsterlager South, BiWi platz 19, on the second of June 1986 at about 11:30hrs and remove my SMG (butt no 112) from the turret traverse indicator on 00ED42 before the turret monster eats it, I'd be very gratefull.
 

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