New Zealand's civil liberties and electoral processes have been ranked the best in the world.
The annual Democracy Index, put together by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), once again has New Zealand showing the rest of the world how it's done.
We scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in two categories - civil liberties and electoral process/pluralism, scored a nine in functioning of government, and eights for political participation and political culture, for an overall score of 9.26 out of 10.
Overall we're ranked fourth in the world on EIU's Democracy Index, well ahead of Australia (9.09) in ninth. Only Norway (9.87), Iceland (9.58) and Sweden (9.39) ranked higher than New Zealand, closely followed by Denmark, Canada, Ireland and Finland.
The only other countries with perfect scores for civil liberties include Canada, Ireland and Australia. Electoral process 10s were also scored in Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Australia, Luxembourg and Uruguay.
- New Zealand ranked 112th in world for 'elector empowerment'
- Auckland knocked out of top 10 most liveable cities
New Zealand and Australia were classified full democracies - two of only 20 in the world, and the only ones in the Asia-Pacific region. Only 4.5 percent of the world's population live in full democracies, by the EIU's definition.
Countries that scored between six and eight out of 10 on the Democracy Index are labelled 'flawed democracies', in which "levels of political participation are generally low and democratic cultures are weak". They include South Korea, the United States, South Africa, France, Mexico, Brazil and India.
The US was particularly let down by its functioning of government score, timely considering the partial shutdown in place at the moment.
The lowest-rated country was North Korea, with an overall score of 1.08 and fat zeroes for civil liberties and electoral process/pluralism. The bottom five were rounded out by Syria (1.43), Congo (1.49), Central African Republic (1.52) and Chad (1.61).
Countries with scores four and below are considered authoritarian regimes in which "political elites fear the threat from the masses and seek to bolster their rule by imprisoning opponents, restricting the media, limiting popular freedoms and repressing protest".
For the first time in three years, the Democracy Index didn't show a decline in the average score worldwide, largely thanks to increasing political participation perhaps sparked by same things which caused declines over 2016 and 2017.
"Just 42 countries experienced a decline, compared with 89 in 2017. Encouragingly, 48 improved," The Economist wrote.
Last year, New Zealand was ranked the least-corrupt country in the world by Transparency International.