Data journalism - EU and democracy, according to Freedom House

, by Jacopo Barbati

Data journalism - EU and democracy, according to Freedom House

TNF supports JEF-Europe’s campaign #DemocracyUnderPressure that this year will take place from the 18th to the 25th of March.

We already commented the results of the 96.2 Eurobarometer opinion poll, where the majority of Europeans stated their satisfaction regarding the status of democracy in their country and in the whole EU.

But is the status of democracy in the EU really satisfactory? An answer to that question might come from an analysis of the last 10 editions (2013-2022) of the Freedom in the World report by the non-profit organization Freedom House, that monitors the status of democracies and rights throughout the whole globe. [1]

In the following visuals, we are showing the EU Member States that did not keep the maximum score of the selected category for the last decade, briefly commenting on the situation.

A. Electoral Process subcategory (max yearly score: 12)

Cyprus, Italy and Romania improved their score within the last decade, which is now 12. Bulgaria and Spain kept the same score as 9 years ago (11 and 12 respectively) but experienced a decrease in the meantime. Hungary and Poland experienced a stable decrease and they are currently the worst in the EU for the category, with a score of 9 and 10 respectively. Overall, the EU is performing very well in this category according to the research, with an average of 11,78 in 2022.

B. Political Pluralism and Participation subcategory (max yearly score: 16)

In this category, there are more countries without a perfect score even if they are close (Austria, Czechia, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece and Slovakia are stable at 15); but the bad news comes from the several decrease in score experienced in the last decade. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Italy lost one point while Malta lost two points and Hungary even 4 points (currently the worst in the EU with 11). Latvia and Slovenia increased their score of one unity, going to 15 and 16 respectively. The EU average score for this category is 15,11 in 2022.

C. Functioning of Government (max yearly score: 12)

While 7 countries improved their score, 11 saw it decrease, with the worst one being again Hungary with a change from 9 to 6. This is one of the worst categories for the countries of the EU, with an average score of 10,11 in 2022.

D. Freedom of Expression and Belief subcategory 2013-2022

More than half of the EU Member States, 14, have decreased their score in this category in the last decade while none has improved. Hungary is again the worst, declining from 15 to 10 points. The EU average is 14,48 in 2022.

E. Associational and Organizational Rights (max yearly score: 12)

6 decreases and no decreases in this category, with France, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia equally the worst in the EU by passing from 12 to 10 points. Overall, good results in the EU with an average of 11,44 in 2022.

F. Rule of Law subcategory (max yearly score: 16)

The worst category of all, with an average score of 13,19 out of 16 in 2022. More than half of the EU (14 Member States) are in decline while only 2 on the rise (Greece and Italy). Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland are in the worst position with a score in 2022 of 10 points.

G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights (max yearly score: 16)

The overall average is not so high (14,37 in 2022) but the outlook is fairly positive, with 6 countries improving while 4 worsening, including France and the Netherlands (alongside Hungary and Malta). The worst score is 12, hit by Bulgaria and Romania with the first on the rise while the latter is stable.

Total (max yearly score: 100)

19 out of the 27 EU Member States have seen their overall score decrease in the last decade (90,48 as an average in 2022 vs 92,89), and this can be the answer to the question we asked at the beginning of this review. Unsurprisingly, given the results in the categories just explored, Hungary experienced a steady decline from 88 to 69 and is now classified by the research as a “partly free” country - the only one in the EU. Poland lost 12 points while Latvia and Greece gained 4 - the best ones. Among the most populous countries, France and Spain lost 6 points, Germany lost 2 while Italy gained 2 - but their results are in line or even below the average (except for Germany, currently at 94, while France scores 89 and Italy and Spain 90). The best performers are Sweden (100 points with a decade average of 99,8) and Finland, with a perfect score of 100 in all of the last decade.


[1Visuals on this article were produced by Jacopo Barbati for TNF on Tableau Public with Freedom House’s data. Source: | Methodology:

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