Karl Popper judges a system of government by how it removes bad leaders and bad policies without violence. What would be the ranking of political systems of countries in the world according to this criterion?

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    Would it be possible to cite a few more details about what specifically Popper said there because "removing of bad leaders and policies" seems awfully ambiguous. What does bad mean and what does remove mean? The desired ranking would probably very much depend on the chosen definitions and without some more specifications of what Popper meant or what you want this question to be, it is not answerable. Oct 31, 2023 at 10:52
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    So a country like Sudan which has had 18 military coups since 1950 would score higher than something like Japan with near one-party rule for decades?
    – Stuart F
    Oct 31, 2023 at 12:04
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    I was unaware there's any objective measure for "bad leaders" or "bad policies". Thus any answer would pretty much have to be opinion-based.
    – Just Me
    Oct 31, 2023 at 15:38
  • How do you determine who is a bad leader or what is a bad policy? What one person defines as bad for ether of those can differ depending on the circumstances.
    – Joe W
    Oct 31, 2023 at 16:52
  • @StuartF Would a military coup really qualify as without violence?
    – Joe W
    Oct 31, 2023 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


Popper didn't spend time designing political systems or scorecards by which to judge existing ones. Clearly a democracy would "rank" higher than an autocracy, and he argued that in two-party systems it is easier to remove a party than a PR system that allows for coalition building to occur after the election:

Under such a [two party] system … parties are from time to time forced to learn from their mistakes” (All Life Is Problem Solving, 97)

He generally thought that a system of checks and balances was necessary. So a system similar to that of the USA would rank highly. Other commentators have noted that the "divided government" that the US system entails makes it harder for voter to assign "failure" to a particular party, and so the two party system of the UK is better in this respect.

But there is no ranking, and no "Popper index". It's clear that for Popper the system only needs to be "good enough" and he was sceptical of all those who try to engineer "perfect political systems".

See my source Karl Popper: Political Philosophy

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