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Interesting survey.

I'd be curious the EIU's methodology for evaluating political culture and functioning of government. These seem squishier to me than most such measures. Certainly they refer to something important. But its not hard to imagine that what constitutes a good functioning government to the "journalists" at the Economist is nothing more than a government which facilitates delocalisations, keeps capital gains taxes low and strips workers of their rights.

Ditto "culture".

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 09:43:11 AM EST
You can actually read the methodology in the linked article.  
Now, I can share your suspicious nature with regards to such surveys, but neither methodology nor the outcome of the study support your suspicions with regards to the EIU.
by ask on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:24:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can actually read the methodology in the linked article.

I think their categories are too much open to interpretation. A single example:

15. Is there an effective system of
checks and balances on the exercise
of government authority?
1: Yes
0.5: Yes, but there are some serious
flaws
0: No

One's opinion might depend on one's political sympathies (to the government or to the opposition), including foreign evaluators. (For example, for Hungary, I don't understand how they got such a low score for political participation based on the criteria.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 05:01:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, does the US score more than 0,5 on this one?

The mention of "checks and balances" makes this sound like an exercise in US high-school civics.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 06:42:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I take umbrage at Italy's way-too-low classification - agreed there can be some justification for knocking a few points off us in the "Functioning of Government" column, but what about the second low score (6.11)? The Economist team apparently can't even decide what to ascribe it to: according to the table it's for allegedly-poor "political participation" - which is totally ridiculous as we not only have an extremely high electoral participation rate, we're crawling with both national and local-level political activism of all kinds... not only the main parties but a huge range of very lively pressure-group/good-cause associations, newly founded mini-parties etc etc!!  The commentary-text instead ascribes our second low score not only to flawed "participation" but also to flawed "electoral processes"(???? dunno why, apart from Berlusconi's bad-loser hysterics????) and flawed "political culture" - whatever that means...???

And having lived both in Italy and in the US, I have come to the conclusion that Italy, with all its faults, is in many significant ways a lot more democratic than America - nevertheless, we get classified as a "flawed democracy" and the US as a "full" one, what a joke! ... as despite those decades-long "Atlanticist" attempts to de-democratise us by Gladio-hook or Berlusconi-crook,  Italy has nonetheless chosen to remain stubbornly democratic in both spirit and practice. So I suspect at least a trace of some kind of anti-Italian bias may be at work here?

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 10:55:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
agreed there can be some justification for knocking a few points off us in the "Functioning of Government" column, but what about the second low score (6.11)?

Indeed that's totally inexplicable. The low percentage of women in parliament could be a factor (both for Italy and Hungary), but it is just one point. I think the other low score is justified for the Berlusconi era, based on what de Gondi reported on what went on.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:06:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Economist has a documentable anti-Italian bias. It is as bad as their anti-Gallic bias, comes out whenever talk turns to things Italian, even on the business page.

Just check their Parmalat coverage, and while Berlusconi got his just desserts in their coverage, it was often over the top and completely out of line with their coverage of other similar European buffoons (eg Aznar).

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 11:31:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I checked before I responded.

Can't see anything solid at all.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 08:34:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The idiocy of turning everything into an index number.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:14:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll avoid giving a rating that that comment!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 04:12:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, I can share your suspicious nature with regards to such surveys, but neither methodology nor the outcome of the study support your suspicions with regards to the EIU.

Really?

Just one example of loaded dice: having low levels of confidence in government or political parties is considered a sign of dysfunction.  Down here in New Zealand, we regard it as a healthy way of keeping the buggers honest!

(At least they try and point to publicly available survey data such as the World Values Survey in determining their scores though, even if you disagree with the interpretations they put on it).

by IdiotSavant on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 04:52:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's like the corruption index that is bases on surveys of perceptions of corruption. So, a country where people don't realise there is corruption is classed as "less corrupt".

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 04:54:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I find the article and the index lacking something. I have been giving a bit of thought to what is a democracy over the last couple of years. My thought is that it is necessary that new political parties form with reasonable possibilities of achieving the reigns of power. The US definition is not that bad: Of the people, by the people, for the people.

This does not seem to mesh well with what the Economist has published. Canada at 9 seems to be questionable. It is true that in Canada it is possible to form new political parties, and to achieve some success in exercising the reigns of power, but it is not easy. First past the post should tell it all. There is additional problems with change, in spite of a wide agreement that it is needed - the current system provides more power to Quebec (and possible Quebec separatism) than a functional representative system. It is even worse than first past the post if one digs into it with guaranteed seat for provinces meaning that a vote from a person in Toronto is worth far less than a vote from a person in Prince Edward Island or Nunivet.

In the US, it is almost impossible to form new political parities with reasonable possibilities of achieving the reigns of power. "Democracy" is limited to a narrow window between right wing (Democrat) and fascist (Republican). It does not matter if your views are in the majority - or even large majority. There is no democratic outlet for views unless they fit the establishment views. As was shown by the amen crowd, the only real way to engage in political change is to engage in a hostile take over of one of the political parties. The US as a full democracy is a piece of propaganda.

I find it difficult to imagine as accurate any survey ranking that does not reflect the difficulties of actually bringing in new ideas and people into government as opposed to recycling the old ideas and people endlessly.


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 12:03:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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