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Western Survey Notes Democratic Change In Armenia


ARMENIA -- Opposition demonstrators gathered on the Republic Square celebrating Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian's resignation in Yerevan, April 23, 2018

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a London-based think-tank, has acknowledged “substantial improvements” in Armenia in an annual report on the state of democracy around the world.

The EIU rated 167 countries and territories on five indicators, including civil liberties and electoral process and pluralism. The resulting Democracy Index again divided them into four categories: “full” and “flawed” democracies, “hybrid regimes” and “authoritarian regimes.”

“Armenia saw the most improvement among all ‘hybrid regime’ countries in eastern Europe in 2018, raising its score to 4.79, from 4.11 in 2017,” said the EIU. “This led to a jump in its ranking from 111 to 103.”

According to the survey, the democratic change resulted from last spring’s “velvet revolution” that toppled Armenia’s longtime leader, Serzh Sarkisian, and brought protest leader Nikol Pashinian to power.

“Mr. Pashinian’s opposition coalition subsequently swept the Yerevan municipal election and won a staggering 70 percent of the vote in a parliamentary election in December 2018,” said the EIU. “These developments, and Mr. Pashinian’s subsequent anti-corruption campaign, improved the country’s scores for government accountability and transparency.”

“They also resulted in a vast improvement in citizens’ perception of corruption and confidence in the government and political parties,” it said.

Armenia’s Democracy Index score had barely changed in the previous years.

The South Caucasus state will have to score more than 6 in order to be classified by the EIU as a “flawed democracy” alongside the United States, France and 53 other nations. The EIU’s latestlist of 20 “full democracies” is topped by Norway, Iceland and Sweden.

Georgia and Turkey are 89th and 110th respectively in the EIU rankings, having been both again rated as “hybrid regimes.” Armenia’s two other neighbors, Azerbaijan and Iran, are far lower in the rankings and remain “authoritarian.”

In an explanatory note, the EIU said that “hybrid regimes” often have “serious weaknesses” in their political culture, functioning of government and political participation. “Corruption tends to be widespread and the rule of law is weak,” it added. “Civil society is weak. Typically, there is harassment of and pressure on journalists, and the judiciary is not independent.”

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