Why does the economist label France a flawed democracy?



The Economist's Democracy Index lists France as a flawed democracy. Why doesn't the Economist see France as a full democracy?


Posted 2016-03-15T17:47:09.293

Reputation: 1 616

3It is labelled "flawed democracy" because it scored between 6.0 and 8.0, and those labels and number ranges were made arbitrarily. A more relevant question would be why it doesn't score more than 8.0 – Bregalad – 2016-03-16T07:15:14.777



Following the link to the actual report (from the Wikipedia page) and searching for France brings data like:

[..] as France slipped down a category. France’s slip was the result of a deterioration in social cohesion.


The rise of the FN in France is just one example of an increased appetite among voters in western Europe for populist, anti-immigrant and Eurosceptic parties


The emergence of technocratic, centrist parties, divorced from the electorate, has created a political chasm between the outlooks of elites and the public. Into the gap have stepped the populists, who appeal to alienated electorates—what Marine Le Pen has characterised as “the France of the Forgotten”

And the numbers of each category of questions:

  • Electoral process and pluralism 9.58
  • Functioning of government 7.14
  • Political participation 7.78
  • Political culture 6.25
  • Civil liberties 8.82

The worst number is for "political culture" which, for what I have read, related to the "faith" that people have in democracy.

For example, in page 52 you can look at the questions of this part, with questions like Perception of democracy and public order; proportion of the population that believes that democracies are not good at maintaining public order (if few people agrees then the country scores 1 point, if many agrees it scores none).

Of course, all of these reports are prone to "observator bias" (what is important to define "political culture" and what not? How important is political culture in relationship to a functioning democratic government, or public participation?) and other issues; usually it is way more useful interesting the trend a certain country is following in the last years/decades than the bare number/classification.


Posted 2016-03-15T17:47:09.293

Reputation: 24 682

1@Shautieh non republican parties in France are not illegal. We have several royalist parties, and some anarchist parties, for instance. They don't have a big audience but they definitely legal. – Evargalo – 2019-02-04T13:39:14.753

@Evargalo in France political parties are considered as non profit organization and thus must adhere to their article 3 which clearly states otherwise : "toute association fondée sur une cause ou en vue d’un objet illicite, contraire aux lois, aux bonnes mœurs, ou qui aurait pour but de porter atteinte à l’intégrité du territoire national et à la forme républicaine du gouvernement est nulle et de nul effet". So, as soon as such a party gets noticed, it will be crushed quickly. – Shautieh – 2019-02-04T15:11:25.920

@Shautieh : your reasonning is very coherent, however there are well noticed such parties : http://www.allianceroyale.fr/sommes/ Where the caveat lies I don't know.

– Evargalo – 2019-02-04T15:35:34.057

@Evargalo I never even heard about this party, and it seems the few who got elected were on lists not officially affiliated with this party. I think that as soon as any such party starts to get traction, it will be crushed. Doing so too early would only serve such parties through the generated publicity. – Shautieh – 2019-02-05T14:20:53.887

1France has a long tradition of perpetual discontent against the government and politics since the French Revolution. It's just the way this country functions. – Bregalad – 2016-03-16T07:56:35.463

5TLDR: because when people vote for the 'wrong party' then it's automatically a flaw of democracy – hownowbrowncow – 2016-03-16T20:24:57.027

@hownowbrowncow I think TLDR statements are a flaw. – velop – 2016-03-17T16:56:46.357

@velop TLDR: no. – hownowbrowncow – 2016-03-17T17:09:49.200

2@hownowbrowncow: You seem to mix up the symptom with the cause. The cause for seeing this democracy as flawed is the decreasing social cohesion, which is in fact always bad for a democracy. The voting behaviour is just one of the apparent symptoms of this political and economic fact. – Philip Klöcking – 2016-03-17T23:37:59.603

@hownowbrowncow there is a whole world of difference between positions like "the party in power sucks, the other party should be in charge" (or even "the electoral rules are unfair towards my party") and positions like "all democratic parties suck, we need a dictatorship to get things done". Questions in the review asked for support for the last position, not for the first. – SJuan76 – 2016-03-18T00:02:23.613

1@PhilipKlöcking and what is the cause of decreasing social cohesion? multicultural experimentation by ruling parties. The voting behavior is a reaction to decreasing social cohesion, sure. But perhaps this is a rejuvenation of democracy and a return to 'people power' (in this case French people). – hownowbrowncow – 2016-03-18T13:02:02.037

1Also because The Economist is British and France is French? And The Economist is liberal and France isn't as liberal as they'd like? – inappropriateCode – 2016-06-13T16:05:09.727

2@inappropriateCode As I mentioned, when designing this kind of questionaries it is easy to fall into some bias and give more value to the aspects the creators value most, and underrepresent those aspects the creators are not familiar with (or simply are a worse fit for their ideologies). That said, I sincerely doubt they would have done such an effort with the intent of blaming France or any other country, there are cheaper ways to do that. – SJuan76 – 2016-06-14T07:31:14.313

@SJuan76 no presidential candidate in France could build a dictatorship, as non republican parties are illegal. So it's not about "we need a dictatorship to get things done", but "whether we vote PS or Republicains doesn't change anything so let's try the extreme on both ends to see if something could change the worsening situation". – Shautieh – 2017-03-23T13:08:43.043