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Editorials

Prejudice and manipulation under the cloak of science: Spain’s dubious “full democracy” rating and the shaky foundations of democracy indices

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"Prejudice and manipulation under the cloak of science: Spain’s dubious “full democracy” rating and the shaky foundations of democracy indices" Autors: Eduard GRACIA; Oriol MARTÍNEZ; Jaume PÉREZ; Josep REYNER; David ROS i Lluís VERBON.

The politics of democracy ratings

There is no doubt that democracy is globally at risk. At least since the start of the Great Recession in 2007, democracy, “the most successful political idea of the 20th century” has been steadily losing ground to autocracy in many countries and seeing its basic tenets eroded by democratically-elected populist rulers in others. As a natural result of this concern, democracy indices aiming to quantify something as subtle yet complex as the democratic quality of a society have not only proliferated but also become more closely watched than ever. The mainstream media regularly announce the latest democracy ratings as news worthy of their first pages, and political commentators often draw major conclusions from a given country’s slide up or down a given ranking.
This has turned these ratings into a political tool. A particularly egregious case is that of Spain, whose government has repeatedly used its ranking in some democracy indices as evidence to counter complaints that its human and civil rights credentials have substantially degraded since the October 2017 Catalan independence referendum was met with police brutality against peaceful demonstrators and a huge wave of repression and lawfare was unleashed afterwards. The case is particularly outrageous as Spain’s human and civil rights violations since 2017 have repeatedly been denounced by various international institutions (e.g., Amnesty International, the UN Arbitrary Detentions Working Group, various court rulings in Belgium and Germany…) as well as international media. Regardless of the drivers and rationale behind these incidents, their sheer number, frequency, seriousness and international visibility obviously mark a discontinuity point in Spain’s democratic credibility which any reliable democracy index should reflect just as faithfully as a seismograph records a seismic wave. (Més informació, cliqueu el pdf...)



Prejudice and manipulation under the cloak of science: Spain’s dubious “full democracy” rating and the shaky foundations of democracy indices
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