11/16/2005, 00.00
ASIA

Least democratic countries in Asia

Finland is the most democratic country in the world according to World Audit. Myanmar and Turkmenistan are dead last. China is 128th.

London (AsiaNews/Agencies) – World Audit, an international not-for-profit company that provides a global geopolitical perspective on democracy and corruption, has recently released its World Democracy Table, which shows that Myanmar and Turkmenistan are the least democratic countries in the world; by contrast, Finland is the most democratic.

The London-based organisation has looked at 150 states with a population of at least one million people and ranked them in its democracy table by combining different variables such as public sector corruption, respect for human and political rights and freedom of speech. Only in states where elections are open and free are voting rights and freedom taken into consideration.

All member states of the European Union and NATO are in the top 40 positions, with the exception of Turkey, which stands at 62.

All G8 members are also at the top of the list—ranging from the UK's 9th position and Japan's 30th— except for Russia, which ranks 115th.

Japan is the most democratic country in Asia, followed by South Korea (32nd), Taiwan (37th) and Israel (38th).

Thailand and the Philippines occupy respectively the 50th and 52nd position and are the most democratic states of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

India is in 58th position. Civil and political rights are relatively well protected in the country, but freedom of the press stands at 50 and corruption at 76 on a 1-to-100 scale.

Despite its wealth and almost corruption-free status, Singapore ranks 79th because of media controls and limited freedom.

Moving towards the bottom of the list, we find North Korea in 82nd position. The Communist state guarantees no rights but there is no information available as to its levels of corruption.

At 115 Russia has improved its standing by six positions compared to the previous list. Saudi Arabia also climbed the ladder by nine positions and is now 117th. Further down, we find Iraq (121st) and Syria (124th).

According to the audit, China ranks 128th. Political rights and freedom of the press do not exist; civil rights are minimal and on the 1-to-100 scale corruption it stands at 67.

Civil rights are limited in Iran (132nd) and Vietnam (138th), countries where corruption is pervasive.

Of the ten bottom positions, three are from Asia. In 144th position, Uzbekistan offers minimal protection to civil rights, falls seriously short in political rights and freedom of the press, and exhibits high levels of corruption. Last (in the list) and least democratic are Myanmar (the former Burma) and Turkmenistan, both which lack civil and political rights and freedom of the press and have some of the highest levels of corruption.

Mauritius and South Africa are the most democratic states in Africa, a continent though that has many members at the bottom of the list—six out of the last ten.

Australia is the most democratic state in Oceania and 8th in the world. Canada is 10th, outranking the United States, which is 14th. Brazil is 42nd and Argentina 62nd.

Cuba is the only country from the Americas at the bottom of the list. Its lack of rights and freedoms and its 50 points on the 1-to-100 corruption scale explain its 140th positions.

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