Turkey declines from deficient democracy to moderate autocracy: Democracy Matrix

The Democracy Matrix (DeMaX) is a tool for measuring the quality of democracy of over 175 countries in the period between 1900 and 2019 on the basis of Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem).

The Democracy Matrix (DeMaX) of Germany’s University of Würzburg has classified Turkey as a moderate autocracy, finding that Turkey has declined from a “deficient democracy” to a “moderate autocracy.”

The Democracy Matrix, a tool for measuring the quality of democracy of over 175 countries in the period between 1900 and 2019, classified the countries according to the quality of their democracies as “working democracy,” “deficient democracy,” “hybrid regime,” “moderate autocracy” and “hard autocracy.”

“Based on the DeMaX classification scheme, 83 out of 179 countries (39.7%) – almost half the world – have the status of democracies. However, there are fewer working democracies (37) than deficient democracies (46). In the case of the latter, not all elements of democracy are fully developed,” the research found.

The democracy matrix classified Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands as the top five “working [democracies],” respectively.

According to the matrix, there are 55 autocracies at the opposite end of the regime continuum, accounting for 30.7 percent of the global distribution of regimes, with China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Syria and Eritrea, respectively, being the five “hardest” autocracies.

“In contrast to moderate autocracies (34), hard autocracies (21), which restrict freedom completely, reject basic equality, and have no control over the use of power, occur less frequently,” the research found.

The matrix defined Turkey as a “moderate autocracy,” ranking it 140th among 179 countries in terms of the quality of its democracy. The matrix further found that Turkey declined from a “deficient democracy” in 2012 to a “moderate autocracy” in 2019, making it one of the most prominent examples of such a decline, a process characterized by the matrix as de-democratization.

“Once more, the main focus of de-democratization is highlighted by the high number of declining deficient democracies, 22, most notably Serbia, Hungary, Brazil, India, and Turkey, which clearly outnumber opposite cases like Tunisia and Georgia. Thus almost half of the countries classified as deficient democracies in 2012 show significantly decreasing levels of quality of democracy,” the matrix said.

In April 2020 another German-based research, Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI), had classified Turkey as an autocracy.

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