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

  • 5
    It 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
    Mar 16, 2016 at 7:15
  • In some years France scored just below the 8.0 threshold for being a "Full Democracy" and so was a "Flawed Democracy". In 2014, 2019, and 2022, France scored just above the 8.0 threshold and was a "Full Democracy".
    – user103496
    Oct 24, 2023 at 1:10

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 3
    France 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
    Mar 16, 2016 at 7:56
  • 8
    TLDR: because when people vote for the 'wrong party' then it's automatically a flaw of democracy Mar 16, 2016 at 20:24
  • 5
    @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. Mar 17, 2016 at 23:37
  • 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
    Jun 14, 2016 at 7:31
  • 2
    @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
    Feb 4, 2019 at 13:39

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