Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The United States is no longer a "full democracy," according to a report released Wednesday that said the country has been on the slide for years as citizens trust the government and their elected officials less and less.
The United States was demoted from consideration as a "full democracy" to a "flawed democracy" in the 2016 Democracy Index, a measure of democratic function in countries around the world. The researchers cite the decline of democratic trust and process in the United States as endemic of a problem seen similarly around the world in 2016, when no country improved its average score in the report and nearly double the number of countries saw their scores go down as those seeing their score go up.
The report, titled Revenge of the Deplorables, points to the vote of Britons to leave the European Union and, especially, the election of President Donald Trump as signalling a global movement of populism having reached a boiling point of issues with the rule of global elites that have long persisted but not been solved.
"On the contrary, the election of Mr. Trump as U.S. president was in large part a consequence of the longstanding problems of democracy in the U.S.," Joan Hoey, editor of the report, told EurActiv.com, adding that "the backlash was the culmination of a longstanding trend of deterioration in the quality of democracy in the U.S. and Europe. which is manifested in declining trust, falling popular participation and the erosion of civil liberties."
The report, prepared by The Economist Group, includes analysis of the governmental systems of 165 independent states and two territories, covering most of the world. The index is based on electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation and political culture. Governments are then classified as either full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime or authoritarian regime.
Overall, the report notes a global reduction in total democracy scores among all of the countries considered, with 72 experiencing some type of decline in their individual score, nearly twice the 38 which saw an improvement. The other 57 countries considered for the report saw their ratings stay the same. On top of this, all five regions of the world saw their overall democracy scores go down in 2016.
The report calls 19 nation-states a "full democracy," one less than last year -- the difference being the United States moving to the group of 57 "flawed democracies." Among flawed democracies, the United States comes in tied for second with Italy, just behind Japan.
"Trust in political institutions is an essential component of well-functioning democracies," researchers say in the report. "Yet surveys by Pew, Gallup and other polling agencies have confirmed that public confidence in government has slumped to historic lows in the U.S."
Rather than blame Trump for the decline, the researchers say he benefited from long-term declines in trust in political institutions and parties, and the government itself, as has been seen in other developed countries of the world.