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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 ]

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