democracy-wallThe West’s fervour for ‘exporting democracy’ has dimmed somewhat since the Iraq war. The lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan have been painful, and the current focus is on promoting democracy less through ‘shock and awe’ and more through ‘hearts and minds’.

There is also, however, more of a general acceptance that different societies have different values and approaches, and that democracy will not be identical in every context. Even in the heartlands of the “democratic world”, no two systems look the same. Some countries follow a parliamentary model, while others have a strong president. Some countries are republics, while other retain constitutional monarchies.

One of our users, Zeebra, thinks “Switzerland is the MOST democratic country in the world”, largely because citizens can call constitutional or legislative referendums if they gather enough signatures. Is he right? If not, can we definitively say which is the most democratic country in Europe?

To get an answer, we spoke to Nikolay Nikolov, a journalist and media producer who currently works for Mashable and is completing a PhD on “paths to democratisation in Eastern Europe” at University College London.

Which country would he say is the ‘most democratic’ in Europe today?

nikolovIt’s difficult to grade something from ‘most’ to ‘least’, especially in terms of democracy because it’s a very dynamic process. How can you compare Britain to Bulgaria? Bulgaria has experience of being a democratic country for 25 years, and Britain has played around with the idea for hundreds of years. So, it’s hard to talk about the ‘most’ democratic country.

However, I think what can be said is that a recent barometer of democracy within the EU context has been the refugee crisis, and how countries have responded to that crisis. And I think the most important factor in that is where populism, fear-mongering, and xenophobia have taken hold. Because I think the countries that have responded to this crisis using strategies of racism, fear-mongering, and of ‘we’ versus ‘they’ – I think those countries are less democratic, because the systems aren’t there in place to balance that kind of discourse, and to delimit that way of getting political popularity…

So, I think the way that you judge a country’s democracy in Europe, as of right now, is whether they are able to debate challenges in a constructive way, and to think of political solutions to unforeseen crises like the refugee crisis.

We had a comment from Andreas, who believes that referendums are the “ultimate form of direct democracy”. Could those European countries that hold more referendums (such as Switzerland), be more democratic?

nikolovI would say that it’s somewhat dangerous to think that referendums are an answer to ‘politics as usual’, or that they are a platform for people to voice their concerns directly. We can see, for example, in the Brexit vote how much referendums can be influenced using forms of mass media that are not informative but are used purely to manipulate public opinion.

And we have seen, in the post-Brexit deliberations and discourse, that some of people who led the Leave campaign have started to fall back on some of the main campaign messages made during the referendum.

So, I would tell Andreas that referendums should not be considered a democratic technique, especially in this day and age where people assume that we can use the internet to quickly and individually empower ourselves by finding all the information online. I think it’s a dangerous tool to make decisions of political importance.

Which is the most democratic country in Europe? Is it impossible to compare democracy in different European countries, given the context and history is so different in each case? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Jooliargh

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292 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Martin Cole

    There is very little democracy in Europe as even the world’s closest to being the world’s best democracy(CH) has links to the increasingly tyrannical EU. The Swiss like the UK are trying to break this tie. NB Under Karl Popper’s excellent definition Democracy vs Tyranny EU is already the latter

    • avatar
      Ana Spínola

      Swiss isn’t a EU Member State!

    • avatar
      David Tough

      Utter twaddle no doubt a English UKIP

    • avatar

      I am Swiss and Nikolay obviously doesn’t understand Direct Democracy when he claims that Referendums can’t be used to deal with “politics as usual”. Every citizen has the right to bring a matter before the people and there are specific criteria to be upheld 1No Genocidal type Referendums(Respect for Human Rights), 2 You must get the minimum amount of Signatures of fellow citizens, this may vary from Canton to Canton and Nationally it is 100000 if im not mistaken, many a initiative/referendum had failed precisely because it didnt get the required support from the citizenry and many have come to a vote but it is the people that will have to live with the Constitution and the Laws that govern them so it is right for them to have a say even a deciding one. It is also shocking but not surpising that Nikolay uses a obviously faulty logic that in essence means that if something that doesn’t agree with his political views is accepted by the people eg Brexit then it is bad and this is to be used as proof that Direct Democracy is faulty in some way well then I could counter that with the 2002/2003 Iraq war yes vote of the US Congress and the UK Parliament, this is proof that something in Representative Democracy is very faulty isn’t it, but ofcourse Democracy is no game of pick and choose your favourite thing and always get what you want. And he talks about manipulating people with the media/press, well I will tell you that it obviously wasn’t very hard to manipulate those parliamentarians to vote yes, you see the political class are used to making backroom deals and intrigues and as such they were a easy group to influence, corrupt etc., remember over 1 Million Brits marched against the Iraq war yet Tony Blair ignored them, in a Direct Democracy he would not have been able to ignore them as the people could have launched a Referendum to stop him. And in any case you give me 10Million Pounds and I can buy a bunch of politicians in Parliament, ofcourse you can also use the 10Million for Political Advertisements but you cannot bribe Millions of Voters to do what you want, 1 you couldnt afford it and 2 you couldnt possibly hide this from the Police, Press etc.
      Direct Democratic Rights are not about getting rid of a Parliament but rather a completion of the Democratic System.

    • avatar
      James Bond

      Switzerland is not an EU country and democracy in Switzerland????? And in UK??? With omp’s in one camera in the parlament elected by the Queen, queen head of state not elected, uuuuuuuuuuu

  2. avatar
    George Grammatopoulos

    That’s a hard estimate, given that there are different scopes to each constitution. Also, there can be no comparison between federal and non federal states, as the central government of one state may have or not have powers, which are essential to the sustaining of democracy. A grand difference may finally be observed when it comes to the model society each country strives for: the ancient Greek “democracy” (an egalitarian society without guarantees for minorities against state overreach) or the roman “republic” (a society which focuses on fair treatment, allowing, however, vast socioeconomic differences).

  3. avatar
    Bart Van Damme

    Demo cracy
    Demos kratein
    The people rule

    The only way to measure democracy by definition is to measure to which extent the people rule. Do politicians rule against the wishes of the people? Do the people get to intervene where needed? And it is painfully clear that “democracies” are “democratic” only in name. The most democratic country in Europe is therefore probably Switzerland.

  4. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    Great Britain obviously as its the only Nation to ask its people what they want and then to do it.

    • avatar
      Carole Hawkins

      UK not democratic, the referendum was all about Camerons vanity.

  5. avatar
    Yanni Sfyrides

    Ι believe that is Denmark,Sweden but also Switzerland for the way of direct democracy they have adopted there.I admire these countries, the institutions are very well organized and functional.

    • avatar
      David Tough


    • avatar

      I second that!

  6. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    Great Britain , Denmark , Nederland , Austria, Norway . Croatia , Sweden , Germany and Poland are garbage democracies destroyed by religious spiders and oil money.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Vinko Rajic
      Religious Spiders?

  7. avatar
    Stefania Portici

    il più bel Paese al mondo di democrazia è l’Italia ( nel suo complesso poi se si va a cercare un dettaglio altri Paesi potrebbero insegnarci , ma nel complesso il sistema italiano è fantastico ) ma è occupata da un mostro che la sta divorando , la UE . . I Paesi più democratici in questo momento sono coloro che non sono occupati dalla “democrazia esportata “, difficile trovarli. the most beautiful country in the world democracy is Italy (as a whole then if you go to look for a detail other countries could teach us, but overall the Italian system is fantastic) but is occupied by a monster that is devouring the EU. . The most democratic countries at the moment are those who are not employed by the “export democracy”, hard to find.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Stefania Portici
      Obviously, you MUST be joking!

    • avatar

      ah ah very fun!

    • avatar

      I do not know which is the most democratic country in Europe and probably the question has no sense, but I can tell you which is the least democratic one: The Vatican! the last absolute monarchy in Europe ruled by a monarch elected only by small group of elderly, only male aristochrats (cardinals).

  8. avatar
    Любомир Иванчев

    I can’t speak for other countries, but I can say Bulgaria shouldn’t even be on the list of democratic countries yet. We have a long way to go still.

    • avatar

      Hungary is EASILY the least democratic country in Europe.

    • avatar

      Subscribe … for me Hungary is the most democratic country,and no matter what others say.If you like stories Forester, go and buy a book ..If I can suggest: Udo Ulfkotte”Gekaufte Journalisten ‘… you will learn a lot about democracy….

    • avatar

      Hungary is most likely the least democratic Country in Europe, if you think otherwise then I recommend all the facts and political acts and what is BEHIND the scene.

  9. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Wrong question! Causes useless competition and resentment.

    The right question is:
    – What are the best democracy practices in EU countries?
    Or elsewhere for that matter.

    • avatar
      Ana Spínola


  10. avatar

    Wrong question! Causes useless competition and resentment!

    The right question is:
    – What are the best democratic practices in EU countries?
    Or elsewhere for that matter.

  11. avatar
    Manuel Dimitrios Kyriakakis

    no such thing exists. maybe in the future and the use of the internet where everyone is a participant in voting on every subject concerning the direction in social maters of each country is directed. Then you have democracy.. But on the other hand, a country with democracy will effect by their decisions other countries. Which may not be to the benefit of the other countries. Therefore Democracy can not or should not exist in the modern world.. We need a new system, based on true Democracy that Democratically encompasses the whole of humanity…

  12. avatar
    Jorge Lux

    No one! The most laws are from bruxelles where the politics are not democratically elected by the national citizens.

    • avatar
      Ana Spínola

      E porque não? Fundamente!

    • avatar
      Ana Spínola


    • avatar

      “All countries are socialist” ??? Maybe the only country with a type of socialism is Sweden. The vast majority is just capitalism. And the 1% of the world’s population control over the 90% of wealth.. I know, the epitome of democracy. facts only.

  13. avatar

    Romania. Why? Because it’s the inly country in EU where we put in jail politicians on very high level. Every country has corrupted politicians in their systems but i didnt see other country to put them in jail while they are prime ministers or else. I believe democracy is where it doesnt matter who you are but u pay for braking law

    • avatar

      That’s not democracy, that’s to do with equality of the judicial system. Democracy is about decisions being made by a majority vote. A police state is not necessarily a democracy.

    • avatar

      Bull, the “witch hunt” went way too far in Romania. One in five romanians, according to statistics, is a presumed “felon”. So far Romania is a dysfunctional presidential state (colony) called The Republic of Prosecutors. If you didn’t know, the prosecutors in Romania are not held responsible for wrong accusations or for using illegal methods of gathering “evidence” according to ECHR and Venice Commission. Romania has major problems with the presumption of innocence, prison conditions, basic fundamental rights, rigged elections, several attempts to close TV stations, etc. Romania is the third country after Russia and Turkey by the number of open cases at European Court of Human Rights, that should be enough to understand “the quality” of Romanian “democracy”.

  14. avatar
    Radu Holenda

    The only country in EU wich puts the politicians in jail for real is Romania. Every country has his corrupted politicians,politics is made of corruption lately called “compromises”. So for me being democratic means a country where no matter who you are,if u brake the law u go to prison just like anyone else. When i say go to prison i mean behind bars not stay at home like Berlusconi in Italy

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Radu Holenda
      What a CORRUPT response!

      FTR, the UK puts politicians in jail too.

    • avatar

      Romania is a neocomunist country, more like Russia,that s why they are arresting politicians.In this country is a cvasi- state party the former comunists psd ,who is first in almoust every elections in the past 26 years.The representants of the former comunists secret service puts the former comunists in jail.That s all .The tv stations are in the hands of the former communists and the justice in the hands of the former communists secret service.For you in the west that is normal becouse you have no information about the powerful anticomunist politicians in eastern Europe in Poland.Czech Republic,Hungary and Bulgaria in the 90 s .The biggest secret in politics is that.and roumanians are layng to you.

    • avatar

      Obviously Romania it’s no’t a high democratic country. When people think about their contry as a democratic one because ”being democratic means a country where no matter who you are, if you break the law u go to prison just like anyoane eles” – but most of the politicians are corrupt or just compromised and people ar low educated, poor and stuff… it’s obviously no’t such a democratic country.
      The puorpose of the democracy is to creat a sistem wich put everyone in prison because of breaking the law? What if the laws are no’t moral? So, what’s the difference between this kind of democracy and totalitarism?

      Probably, when a country suport people to find and realise their needs and their country needs, could be named democratic – So,aparently, Iceland.

    • avatar

      Romania ? The third country after Russia and Turkey by the number of open cases at European Court of Human Rights ? The only one from the bunch governed by an unelected, illegitimate, govern ? The same country where one in five of its citizens is a presumed “felon” ? Boy, you just miss a good opportunity to be quiet.

  15. avatar
    catherine benning

    Here is what is taking place in order for the West to force Democracy in countries that don’t understand it or want it.

    Interesting video to watch :

    And here is a newspaper article that explains what it is our government along with the White House are pushing for.

    Andrew Mitchell is a man who has absolutely no respect in the UK as a result of his foul attitude and plethora of expletives voiced toward British security police as they protected Downing Street by not allowing him to go through unauthorized gates with his bike. Now we see his character matches his obscene behaviour. A war monger and clearly a US patsy.

  16. avatar
    Julia Hadjikyriacou

    The whole way of ‘governance’ needs updating to ‘protectorate’ of all people and the environment. An ethical code not any ‘cracy’.

  17. avatar
    David Miller

    For all our faults & we have plenty, I still think I live in one of the best little countries in the World 🇬🇧
    The Scottish part that is 😄 👌

  18. avatar
    Christos Tsimpoukidis

    Really hard to answer, since the way we got to know Democracy from ancient times is so different to compare it nowadays. I would rather say that EU states are the least democratic and that Iceland leads the way to a “direct Democracy” form , that a State got to have…

  19. avatar
    Stergios Kaprinis

    There are only TWO democratic countries in Europe: Switzerland, which is a direct democracy and Iceland, which is not a direct democracy but functions as one due to the small size of its population. All the other countries are oligarchies that may (Sweden) or may not (Greece) have their population’s consent.

  20. avatar
    Hermínio C. Francisco

    Em Portugal temos partidocracia, os partidos políticos perverteram a democracia, tudo porque mais de 50% do eleitorado não vota e os que votam fazem-no em quem mais lhe promete.

  21. avatar
    Jakub Bláha

    I like the end. Referendum is bad, anti-democratic xD Yes! Let the enlightened dictators of EU commision rule as they want!

  22. avatar
    Indiana Jac

    There is a very old wisdom, “every country gets the government it deserves, as all peoples have their own needs and idiosyncrasies.
    Therefore comparing systems is useless and forcing systems on countries a waste of time and energy.

  23. avatar
    Zbigniew Jankowski

    Democracy is not a system, it’s a mechanism which allows us to solve problems without conflicts. Based on 3 correlated inseparable elements i.e. actual majority, rule of law and freedom & tolerance theoretically could even work under a dictatorship or in a kingdom. So a country which has that in their constitution is a democratic country.

  24. avatar
    Georgios Kyriazopoulos

    hehehe, this is a joke..there will never be real..democracy…only brainwash from the media..which are doing only propaganda..for whom is paying…well

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Luis Prenda Prenda
      In the country that coerces its media NOT to report negatively on issues related to immigration. LOL!

  25. avatar
    Arron Karl Hughes

    Certainly not the United kingdom. Because the rest of europe behaves like a three year old throwing a temper tantrum when we hold referendums. Europe hate us,but will happily accept british money and jobs. Very poor and two faced attitude.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Zoltan Maurer
      Yeah right!

      Geert Wilders!

  26. avatar
    Domo Dedovo

    Most people here take only one factor into consideration, and that is mainly their ability to vote directly. The arguments go: “It has to be switzerland because they have direct democracy” or “It is not the EU because I cannot directly vote for a commissioner”.

    But there is a broad variety of other factors to be taken into account: e.g. how well are individuals and minorities protected (independent judiciary), how well informed do people vote (media independence), are decisions implemented (effective instiutions), etc.

    Therefore I think – unfortunately – we have to ask the OECD :)

  27. avatar
    Nick Coulson

    Mr Nikolov seems to be of the opinion that democracy must be limited to what some organisation thinks it should be limited to. This is not how it works. For that is not democratic any more than the Democratic Republic of North Korea is. For a country to be democratic two basic rules apply. Any thing is legal unless it’s people decide to make it illegal. And illegality should restrict itself to preventing harm to others financial or physical and nothing else. It maybe that he feels anti I migration feeling is not democratic. But it must be, if not there is no safety valve and democracy is cast aside in frustration. It may well be that a nasty right wing or left wing can obtain power for a time. But to remain there is not so easy. To have enough power to exert it’s worse excesses is unlikely. He talks if “delimiting populism” you can’t do it. To do that means over throwing democracy in frustration. The old the elite politicians are not listening. Begone with them. He talks of Brexit and miss information. Maybe so but in a democracy people are more informed than he supposes. If not then he cannot be a democrat as that test can be applied to any aspect of political discourse. He is then a Technocrat. We are educated experts and we will decide. In a democracy people’s make wrong decisions learn and correct where necessary. It develops and not always smoothly. Finally he argues referendums don’t work. I tend to agree. However only because I don’t believe that aside from very big and constitutional issues they are unnecessary on the whole. Governments are elected on manifestos that contain any number of issues that are dominant in the political discourse at any one time. They are if you like basket subjects referendums. So on the whole it appears you have requested a Technocrat to comment on Democracy.

  28. avatar
    Stathis Stathopoulos

    Alll Capitalsit coountries are dictatorships . Dictatorships of the bourgeoisie. If you don’t agree with that try to have any influence in the decision making process..

  29. avatar
    Димитър Димитров

    The most democratic is the country where there is less corruption.The most democratic is this country where there is equal opportunity regardless of origin and wealth of parents, where belonging to the elite is not inherited, but on merit.

  30. avatar
    Paulo Ramos

    In what contry of the EU that the people was asked if they like to be part of the EU? Democracy lol

  31. avatar
    Susanna Vega

    Britain. it is , has always been, and will probably be. The least democratic? Somewhere in the Med,…:p

  32. avatar

    The rule of law, the protection of minorities, the division of power, the principle of equality and the majority rule are together what ‘democracy’ is for me. Countries which are following these rules are a democracy. The other countries are not. Switzerland is a democracy, China is not.

    But I have another question: Why are people dying at the EU-border for 4 years? Could you please answer, why the EU does not help them?

  33. avatar
    Nigel Richards

    Tough one…we hear a lot about it lately but it’s extraordinarily elusive. EU? Certainly not! The very thought of decision making by the mass sends shivers of horror through the cushy corridors of Brussels. Britain? They think they have it, but really it seems to be business as usual. Nobody’s actually doing anything democratic. Just heaps of mud and much ‘remoaning’. No, I think it’s still actually lurking in some remote off-grid Hellenic areas where inspite of being told to do otherwise, some people are perhaps beginning to join the dots. At least, I hope they are!

  34. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    @Nikolay Nikolov
    Populism is the democratic sentiment of the masses frowned upon by the ruling classes.

    BTW, is your Ph.D part or wholly funded by the EU or an EU supported body?

  35. avatar
    Shahadat Bablu Hossain

    There are no country has real democracy, only voting right is not democracy, democracy should protect people’s interest and their right not only government interest !!!

  36. avatar
    Georgi Marinov

    Today’s Western European/American type of vicious, profit-no-matter-what capitalism isn’t democracy, just like the former USSR’s oppresive totalitarist regime wasn’t socialism…

  37. avatar
    Sandra Mani Calinescu Dominey

    As long as corporations, their lobbyists and accolytes in governments and parliaments rule, there will never be true democracy. It is just sand in the eyes to appease the masses.

  38. avatar
    Trinus de Vries

    Europe has some serious democracy and transparency issues. During the Greek crisis democracy was violated brutally in 2015. First when the greek people elected the syriza party with a mandate to discuss and question the austerity policy which had been making the crisis worse for 5 years. Which was met by mr Schauble and mr dijselbloem with “elections will not change anything” and “it’s the memerandum of understanding or nothing” . Making it obvious the eurogroup was not intersted in having a sensible conversation let alone serious negotiations. And a second time when the greek people courageously voted “no” to this policy. Even whith closed banks and atm’s. And this all was done by the eurogroup which officially does not exist so not even minutes were taken of the meetings . So we will never know who said what and on what grounds the arguments were made. Yet those decisions have their effect on millions of europeans.

  39. avatar
    Νικος Κασσαβετης

    Democracy is when the people rule..and in every country in Europe and the world the only power that the people has is to elect politicians to have the power and take the discussions that is not Democratic…what ever discussion must be taken there should be a vote and the people them self’s take the discussion and not the elected party cause the people have made the choice for the future..yes that will take longer time but then you can say there is an Democratic county

  40. avatar
    Ivo Angelov

    “…So, I would tell Andreas that referendums should not be considered a democratic technique, especially in this day and age where people assume that we can use the internet to quickly and individually empower ourselves by finding all the information online. I think it’s a dangerous tool to make decisions of political importance…”

    Малко тъпо.

  41. avatar
    René Aga

    Belgium. After more than a year without a new government, its economy didn`t suffer because the regional governments worked, and same did enterprises and the people. And finally they were able to build a government with six different political parties. Democracy is no governing about one halve of the people against about the other half. In Belgium at least two thirds are needed for very important questions and voting is a right but also a duty of the democrats. You have not a real democrat if you don’t vote, In Brexit almost one third didn’t vote!!:

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      Rene, pitting King Leopold’s “mandatory democratic” (Ghost) against that of the “discretionary democracy” of the UK and/or the EU? You have been posting & repeating for the Xth time now the following:

      * Brexit turnout was “only” 71.8% & therefore considered undemocratic & invalid (by “some”)- who is this group?

      * Compared to the 2014 EU election turnout which was 41.16% and considered democratic & valid by the EU- or?

      Test question for all who want to obtain a “PhD in obedient pro Euroism”, please consider:

      a) interpret the two comparing %’s & explain:
      b) which is less democratic?
      c) Who’s opinion is biased?
      d) while being proud of your Belgian “national democracy” (as every true NATIONALIST should be)- when at the same time happily selling your sovereignty to Brussels- oxymoron or not?

      e) is & can such “PhD in Euroism” be globally acceptable?

  42. avatar


  43. avatar
    Issidoros Lemanis

    Antonis this a very difficult question to answer and it is depending on the factors which you consider democratically important in our days. In my view “common market” was ok until they…created “EU” which means more political influence to other countries affairs…..

  44. avatar
    Danny Boy

    Which is the the most democratic nation in Europe?.Hell, that’s like being asked to judge who the sanest lunatic in the asylum is.
    But at a push I would have to plump for Italy,think about it with nearly SEVENTY different governments since the end of the war,it must be the only country in the world where everyone at some time will get to be prime minister.

    • avatar


  45. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    In which country do politicians care most about what people think and listen to them most often? I think Switzerland. Referendums are currently the best expression of democracy because people can take part in the process of determining their own future by approving or rejecting the law proposals of their politicians. There is a step further, though. I imagine the ultimate democracy of the future being a country where people overtake the role of the parliament in proposing, discussing and approving the laws that will govern them. This will be done through constant online referendums and discussions. Every opinion will matter. Each law will be passed after a vote by people – probably hundreds each year. Elections will be held online too, but the responsibilities of MPs will be more administrative and advisory, rather than decision-making. Ministers will have to enforce the implementation of the laws approved by people and, of course, will be chosen by people. There will not be any parliament voting – only citizens’ voting. This is my vision for the perfect democracy, but it does not exist in reality yet.

  46. avatar
    Faddi Zsolt

    There is no democratic country in Europe. The most democracy-like countries are Switzerland and Iceland. The others are far away from democracy!

  47. avatar
    Marian Nicuriuc

    I can tell for sure that the least democratic from the UE members states is Hungary, with ridiculos decisions in awe …

  48. avatar

    I agree in some respects with Nikolay. Here in my country, Portugal, I fear the populism of fear, I still remember the bankruptcy of the banking and the troika & IMF behind to bleed the taxpayer. They were very hard times and populism was dangerous in some ways, I think a referendum at that time would not be good(in the sense of his response), or maybe yes (The people can not be used to pay prejudice of private banks, period). Democracy exists here of course, we voted 4 in 4 years and we’re praying it goes well and what they say, can do. Philosophically, I think the jurisdictions of each country until they subjugated the economic side that forces policy to divert your way, makes this question difficult to answer, from my point of view. The refugee issue has been like a double-edged sword, on the one hand many advocates rather the political, welcome, however the opinions are divided, there is, fear, Islamophobia and all these negative feelings based on fear simply. This people do not feel safe in this world in general, and we see results of the “great” of this world. Where people just want peace and Politics policy arranges always an excuse to do and support wars, embargoes and complications. Because all these implications will have repercussions in our society. It is hard to any citizen understand countries democratic politics, creating this whole mess in first place.

  49. avatar

    I do not know which is the most democratic country in Europe and probably the question has no sense, but I can tell you which is the least democratic one: The Vatican! the last absolute monarchy in Europe ruled by a monarch elected only by small group of elderly, only male aristochrats (cardinals).

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      Giuseppe, why try compare and classify the micro state “Vatican City”- being an “absolute theocratic monarchy” and having a special status within the EU and Europe – with secular European democracies of varying degrees? Can one- should one?

      Example: are the “10 commandments” subject to a popular vote every 5 years like secular political agendas?

  50. avatar

    Definitely not Greece…if it wasn’t an EU member and people didn’t have the option of taking their cases to the international courts, we would be talking about proper Tsipras dictatorship now…with tanks an all…

  51. avatar

    Brussels doesnt practice what they preach. Under the dictate of Brussels, democracy has been watered down , theres really not much left .
    Brussels is full of self serving business men working for other business men.
    Eu goverments are not there for eu citizens, wake up, smell the coffee.
    Just like the usa elections, what a joke , crooked hillary against crooked trump, its a farce , a show, fake , it gives americans the feeling they are in control. They even stand there and wave a flag for these 2 criminals, unreal. Must be something in the food over there, or they really are as dumb as a rock. The american people have no control what so ever , thier country is controlled by outsiders ,wallstreet and corporates. Read crooked hillarys emails.
    Europe is on the same path.
    So the answer to the question as to which country is the most democratic is the one with the best corporate spin doctor.

  52. avatar

    Maybe there is an actual etymological sense to the word democracy (< ancient greek, meaning power for the people) but I think that, nowadays, people have their own understanding of that word. And that is precisely why, in my opinion, it's so hard to judge which country in Europe is the most democratic. Every new passing person you'll ask what their precise understanding of "democracy" is, will have a different answer than the last one. Because they have their own conception of a democratic state. Maybe it will be a similar one from one citizen to another within a country, but as soon as you cross borders democracy could be a notion approached in a totally different manner.
    Now I hear the arguments of some who will be saying "But there MUST BE a common base of understanding of what is right and democratic, otherwise what's the point of Europe?". However, what is right in our own eyes and following our own point of view is because of our history, because of what we've already experience and because of the cultural and societal context we evolve in. But in the end, I don't think that we can reasonably pretend to impose our ideas and views on this subject when on the other hand we wouldn't admit that another imposed us its ideas or views.
    All this to say: Are we really in position to judge which country in Europe is the most democratic, since every single one's understanding of "democracy" will not be the same as the other?

  53. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    At the National level yes & make it compulsory, but the EU is ruled by an unelected politburo who ignore the will of the people so what would be the point ?

    • avatar
      Martina Tesseri

      Just saying…. You elect the Members of the EU Parliament by voting in your own country, the last time we did so two years ago. Did you go voting?

      The EU Commission’s President is nominated on the basis of the political group that won the EP elections, pretty much like in any parliamentary system. Just imagine, during the last elections we even knew who would have been nominated in case of any political group’s victory! By voting for MEPs you knew who would have been President of the Commission! Crazy, isn’t it?

      The EU council and the Council of ministers? Well that’s the easy part, they are the same ministers you elected at home!

      I would also suggest you take a look at the European Citizens Initiative. It might not be frequently used but it is there for citizens to use at any time and for any topic of interest.

      There is no doubt that the EU needs to work on its proximity to citizens, but the instruments for democracy are all there. Maybe you didn’t know about them, maybe your own politicians hide them from you or something, but there they are. The democratic deficit is much more about perceptions than institutional reality.

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

      Martina Tesseri .

      Nominated is not ‘elected’ and the European parliament is a parliament in name only, the reality is it’s just the rubber-stamping department of the unelected European Politburo which only answers to itself.

      Although we will have left the antidemocratic EU by the next MEP election it will be interesting to see how many more anti EU MEP’s will be elected.

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

      Martina Tesseri

      When you say ‘ European Citizens Initiative. It might not be frequently used ..’ you actually mean never used as again the unelected European Politburo chooses which initiatives go forward, tell me how many European Citizens Initiative’s have made it into law in the 5 years since it started ?. It is just a propaganda tool used to give the commission a fake veneer of democratic legitimacy

    • avatar
      Martina Tesseri

      I agree on the ECI being underused, which is why I think that a problem still exists at the EU level, and which is why I said that the EU needs to work on it.

      As far as the President of the Commission is concerned, we can discuss about a direct election, but him being nominated doesn’t make the system undemocratic. It is a representative democracy, people we elect (MEPs) in turn elect others (President of the Commission). And again, this is also what happens with parliamentary systems, the governments are nominated. Or are you saying that only presidential and semipresidential republics are democratic?

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

      Martina Tesseri .

      Name one British EPP MEP ?, just one.

      The Lisbon treaty (rejected European constitution) was deliberately written to give overall control of the EU to the unelected commission to stop the democratic process interfering in goal of ever closer union, even the people who wrote it knew the peoples of Europe do not want it.

      Whichever way you spin it Rule without consent is a dictatorship, not a democracy.

      The only question left unanswered is who will leave next, France or Italy.

    • avatar
      Peter Nicko'lay Canseeheart

      I won’t read everything. Just to let you know that humans are humans. They never ignore people’s opinion, no matter do they try. Stop being childish.

    • avatar
      Martina Tesseri

      “To stop the democratic process interfering in goal of an ever closer union”. Yeah, that must be the reason why direct election of the EP was introduced, or why the powers of the EP have been steadily increased, and so on and so forth. It’s true that two countries rejected the 2004 proposal for a EU Constitution, but this is why so many of the crucial competencies of a State are still in the hands of national MS and not the EU – foreign policy to name one, but I am sure you know all about it.

      This might not be a childish conversation – it’s always interesting and enriching to debate with someone who does not think as you do, I believe – but surely none of us is going to change their position. Personally I am one who looks at the possibilities optimistically and thinks of a way to improve and correct the mistakes, rather than judging based on my guts, fears and anger.

      That having been said, I honestly hope that France, Italy and anyone else will stay and work cooperatively towards a better EU. The UK chose, we cannot but respect the choice and wish you good luck with your negotiations and your future. Have a nice day! :)

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

      Martina Tesseri .

      An unelected commission ignoring the will of the people is democratic ?, was anyone asked if they wanted a ‘European Parliament’ ?

      Sorry I stopped reading after the first line, you EU extremists are just making it up now lol

    • avatar
      Martina Tesseri

      I am an EU extremist as much as you are an anti-EU extremist. Points of view, I guess. :)
      (Plus, I would not define myself as an extremist since I am acknowledging the flaws of a system I am willing to improve.)

      Also, you are questioning the need or desirability of a directly elected Parliament when arguing for more democracy? How ironic.

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

      Martina Tesseri

      The European Parliament powers come from the rejected European constitution and given that only 28% of the peoples of the EU voted for pro EU MEP’s it clearly has no legitimacy amongst the people, no matter how much you want to have.

      You are incorrect, I am like the vast majority of people in the Nation States, a Nationalist. You on the other hand as an pro EU extremist are a quisling.

      Vive la liberté !

    • avatar
      Martina Tesseri

      Have it as you like and call me how you want, I am true to my principles of unity, cooperation and self-improvement, as you are true to yours, and this honours us both. I am sorry, but I don’t have time to debate any longer, have a nice day!

  54. avatar
    Julia Hadjikyriacou

    An ethical code ensuring EU decisions are made as long as they don’t harm people or the environment is a better idea. It is not true democracy when only some people, uniformed people or profit-oriented people are voting for decisions. It is not democracy that is lacking in EU decisions its ethics.

  55. avatar
    Leonidas Xifaras

    Is not the ultimate! Is the transformation of indirect democracy that surfaced after the French revolution to direct democracy that it was created in ancient greece

  56. avatar
    Andre Lopes

    Ultimate? Security concerns? The internet is the kingdom of frauds…… where is this ultimate?

  57. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    I wonder why the DE needs to look across to the USA/California to obtain a “1990’s opinion” (Prof. Arend Lijphart), while similar knowledge is much closer to home, current, & already tabulated- ready to be used?

    As per © David F. J. Campbell / Paul Pölzlbauer / Thorsten D. Barth / Georg Pölzlbauer:
    The global rankings are:

    1 Norway 88.1, 2 Switzerland 87.0, 3 Sweden 86.6, 4 Finland 86.0, 5 Denmark 85.2, 6 Netherlands 83.6, 7 Germany 82.0, 8 New Zealand 81.8, 9 Ireland 81.7, 10 Belgium 81.5, 11 Austria 80.1, 12 United Kingdom 80.0, 13 Australia 79.7, 14 France 79.3, 15 Canada 79.1, 16 United States 77.6

    Since “people” & institutions are tasked to represent the varying democratic dispensations- (within our “so far & past European homogeneous nations”- being altered by EU policies at present)- integrity, honesty & being incorruptible are the most important features- whatever type of representative democracy there may be.

    Even a “dead honest & committed dictator/monarch” representing peoples with integrity could be preferable to a corrupt “dead dishonest” democracy!

    The EU democratic deficits are several- on summary: is the result the best for the a) people; b) the influential & ruling establishment; c) the self serving political elite or d) a combination?

    Probably, these scores will change & disappear as all sovereign European nations will eventually become extinct & assimilated in a “democratic” but totalitarian EU!

  58. avatar
    Kyle Reese

    Yes, definitely yes! direct democracy might be the only way out of corrupt politicians and institutions. But, how safe is the available technology? Not enough.

  59. avatar
    Dimitris Orfanoudis

    I dont know which is the most democratic country in europe the only i know is that Greece it turns to be a semi-democracy country….

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      Hi Dimitris, why not check the link? They give a “reasonable” indication. Greece’s 2014 ranking is 41- steadily declining from rank 25 years ago!

  60. avatar
    Andy Sanders

    ow FFS no , never ever. Direct democracy has been tried in Ancient Greece and it was not a good idea. Even with “objective” information it wouldn’t help a thing. People would use these referenda for whatever grievance they have at that moment. And there will always be populists using it for their ends too

    • avatar
      Daniel Parvanov

      Yes swiss people live in poverty, are most unhapy, in Europe cause of direct democracy

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      Andy, why would Switzerland be ranked No 2 globally in 2014? The mindset of today’s Swiss is surely more evolved than that of the ancient Greeks? Well educated people, with a rounded knowledge, together with good ethics makes a good nation- or?

  61. avatar
    Wendy Harris

    Online polls are rigged, news blackouts are imposed across the Internet. There is disinformation, shills and sockpuppets everywhere. Facebook newsfeed is rigged. Petitions are rigged. Search engines are rigged. If anyone believes that democracy can be entrusted to the Internet they are stark staring mad.

    18/01/2018 Nic Newman, Research Associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, has responded to this comment.

    18/01/2018 Sophie Nicholson, Social Media Editor at Agence France-Press (AFP), has responded to this comment.

    • avatar
      Daniel Parvanov

      You forgot to mention that main stream media (ofline tv, radia) are owned by people with special interest or people connected to such

    • avatar
      Wendy Harris

      Yes that too. The whole system was used to the maximum in the Brexit campaign. The majority of Brits still believe the vote was rigged through postal and block voting and that the Leave result should have been nearer 65%. Too many for Remain to be able to win by fraudulent means. The ballot box was the only thing that saved democracy that day.

  62. avatar
    Dimitris Kitsanelis

    Democracy means that people’s opinion is respected and taken into account and also they are free from austerity to develop relations and creativity. Better than defining the most democratic country is to evolve democracy in Europe entirely. Give Europe a vision.

    • avatar
      Dimitris Kitsanelis

      Can be a leading example! Respect to people and nature. We also need a very good and complete educational system. Not just “training to work”. I hope they do have.

    • avatar
      Péter Sebők

      Greek people are not mature enough for a swiss type of democracy

    • avatar
      Bódis Kata

      “Greek people are not mature enough for a swiss type of democracy” > The voice of a neo-bolshevik.

    • avatar
      Dimitris Kitsanelis

      Greek people are forced to austerity. Are not free. Maturity cannot derive under these circumstances.

    • avatar
      Dimitris Kitsanelis

      But what they can do better than others is to inspire change. So let’s continue seeking for the good example than judging against who is not.

    • avatar
      Rémi Martin

      Tu plaisantes? J’espère…

    • avatar
      Jarosław Bratus

      Czy Ty sobie żarty robisz? We Francji nie ma demokracji tylko narzucone prawa Unii Europejskiej na sprowadzanie czarnych i muzułmanów to samo jest w innych krajach na przykład w Szwecji gdzie też już kraj opanowali najeźdźcy zwani imigrantami i narzucają swoje gówniane prawa w krajach którymi są gośćmi

    • avatar
      George Agavriloaiei

      My argument is more from historycal perspective.French Revolutio, 1789-liberte, egalite, fraternite.And from what i saw in media and on the internet.Tolerance about refugees. Terrorist are free in France.

    • avatar
      Péter Sebők

      Hungary cannot be considered as a democracy

    • avatar
      Bódis Kata

      The neo-bolshevik troll strikes again.

    • avatar
      Fernando Nabais

      Péter Sebők So, you are saying a country that holds a referendum in a very important issue is not a democracy. The other countries which do not hold a referendum and do things against the will of the large majority of people are more democratics, right? I guess in your opinion the more democratic countries in the world are Cuba and North Korea.

    • avatar
      Cristina Zamora García

      No it is not a democracy. In a democracy, the protection of fundamental rights and the rights of minorities is (supposed to be) guaranteed. In Hungary, they’re literally kicking out people who are being prosecuted in their countries, using freedom as an excuse to hide their bigotry

    • avatar
      Barna Toth

      I live here. It sucks as a democracy but great food and hot girls tho :D

    • avatar
      Nicolò Rivoir

      Fernando, you can’t judge the complex issue of a country’s democracy only by 1 (one) referendum.

      And, just to know, who was to promoting that referendum? The goverment or the people?

  63. avatar
    Jacob Marn

    what does the ”most democratic” mean? as far as I know most countries in centraul europe, south, west and north from it all democratic, asking which is ”the most democratic” sounds like something a child would ask

    • avatar
      David Alan Roden

      the question it is a means to survey which countries democracy is seen as the most “pure” and hopefully from there remodel the less pure democracies from that.

      PS the last part is of course fantasy-

  64. avatar
    Bobi Dochev

    Although democracy doesn’t exist, Switzerland is the closest to it. But it is not ruled by EU bureaucrats and Brussels’s idiot so it is easy for them to build a society which works.

    • avatar
      Matej Zaggy Zagorc

      Bingo. But they don’t need the EU. Many countries within the EU need it because once you join they make it extremely hard to leave without totally ruining your economy

    • avatar
      Bobi Dochev

      It is absolutely like the Mafia – once join it you can leave only when you are dead… if you are not dead yet they will help you ;)

  65. avatar
    Katrin Mpakirtzi

    Banks gives money to goverments so there is no democracy when you are in a bog gale of depths that uou never did and somone said YOU OWN ME..SO YOU DIE till to pay me the double. Societies has nothing to do with this Ylistic war of Money without progrees to studies or science…just open borders to cheep workers with love to migrands -migrandmania-but not to idigenous at all.Some states having money control even our breath… who cost two sents (??)and we own evem.that. Protectorata to powerfulls cant be democratic nations. And if bankers gives orders to EKT AND HOLE ECONOMY because they want more and more money … democracy is dead

  66. avatar
    Bódis Kata

    The separation of church and state had ensured us a secular democratic establishment only to let it fall victim to big money and greed.
    We need democratic reforms to ensure a separation of capital and state.

  67. avatar
    Giulia Noia Dipresa

    it’s nice to see that no one mentioned Italy… according to me the most democratic countries are probably the northern ones… Finland, Sweden, Norway… I don’t know why but I have this feeling.

  68. avatar
    Wendy Harris

    There is no democracy in the EU. It’s a corrupt dictatorship of bullies and thieves.

    • avatar
      Barna Toth


    • avatar
      Wendy Harris

      Where ignorance predominates vulgarity invariably asserts itself. Crawl back into your cave, troll.

  69. avatar
    Børge Rahbech Jensen

    No idea as I only know a fraction of the European countries. Unfortunately, I rule out the country I live in which only seems democratic on the surface but in essence feels more like a dictatorship. For instance, the country is said to have a free press, but somehow the press seems too coordinated to be independent and seems to work closely with the parliament.

  70. avatar
    Stefania Portici

    ci sono 2 strumenti per far cadere in schiavitù: guerra o debiti. La democrazia come concetto nobile è stato storpiato sopratutto da chi attualmente la esporta , gli elettori vengono ingannati , sono stati trasformati in consumatori della politica .Eh ….chi riesce a mantenere la sua identità in mezzo a tutto questo ? Per ora ha perso il popolo europeo e non solo europeo There are two instruments to fall into slavery, war or debts. Democracy as a noble concept was crippled especially by those who currently exports, voters are deceived, have been turned into consumers of .EH politics …. who manages to maintain its identity in the midst of all this? For now has lost the people of Europe and not only Europe

  71. avatar
    Ciobîcă Ovidiu

    As always, Greece! No matter what, Greeks claim their rights with no hesitation. Could add here Ukraine, Iceland and the Netherlands.The more non democratic: Norway, Sweden, Turkey.

  72. avatar
    Dimitris Stamiris

    do anyone know what democracy is ???
    are you sure you can see democracy those days ???

    real democracy my friend is what you can reed about Athens before many many years ….today democacy is : i vote a liar and he do anything he want (anything germans want) for 3 years …… the 4rth year he try to cover all the mistakes and make vote for him again

    in angend greece was : i vote a person to do my job but if he dont he go home next day ,,,, not after 4 years !!!!!!

    pic what democracy you want

  73. avatar
    Erik Jakub Citterberg

    People commenting here seem to be a bit poopy, it’s not all doom’n gloom. Cheer up folks, I think they are going fór light hearted debate…

  74. avatar
    Manolis Karras

    I am Greek and I can assure you that democracy died long ago. Corporations run the show, unfortunately with politicians as puppets. We are the pawns

  75. avatar
    Niels Renssen

    Switzerland… The Swiss people have been taught how to use the complex instrument called a referendum… That’s something the Dutch people have not achieved yet

    • avatar
      Andreas Nikolaidis

      Then why the commisioners behave that there is already in? Look and how they do against the Rebublic of Cyprus. EE is a club of NOT ELECTED persons thats why they spend natios money

    • avatar
      Augustin Bouvier

      Mais la démocratie n’est pas toujours une bonne chose ;)

    • avatar
      Louis Gendebien

      Non la Belgique l’est davantage. Regarde eux ils ont un président qui doit atteindre 51% des voix tandis qu’en Belgique, si on le désirait on pourrait faire un gouvernement avec tous les partis donc 100% des voix.

    • avatar
      Louis Gendebien

      En fait, quand y réfléchit, c’est la Suisse avec leurs référendums (rien que d’y penser, j’ai la gerbe)

    • avatar
      Augustin Bouvier

      Oui, je n’aime pas les référendums non plus. Mais la population suisse n’est à mon avis pas la plus bête, contrairement à certains pays…

    • avatar
      Louis Gendebien

      Augustin Bouvier (hum hum mais quel pays vises-tu, Augustin ? )

  76. avatar
    Louis Jeffs

    There isn’t a word to describe what the UK is. Maybe ‘Headupourarsecracy’.

  77. avatar
    Nicolò Rivoir

    This Nikolay is wrong about referendum and totally illogic in his argument.
    Why taking an example from a country where referendum aren’t “politic as usual” to judge referendum use as “polics as usual”? Why consider the single case of brexit referendum in Uk and not one or more of the many referendums and initiatives taking place in Switzerland every year?
    That makes no sense.

    People who aren’t used to take important decisions are, of course, more likely to make wrong choices, but If they were allowed to take more important decisions they will experience and they will be more likely to make wiser choices.

  78. avatar
    Laugent Zanaj

    First of all we need to know what democracy means and not the usual definition,in my opinion the democracy has come to an end many years ago.
    We can go out and ask the people of any country if they do belive in the demoracyand i am afraid that the answer will be no!

  79. avatar
    Kokonas George

    Aristotle : The rule of law is the principle that no one is exempt from the law, even those who are in a position of power. The rule of law can serve as a safeguard against tyranny, because just laws ensure that rulers do not become corrupt.
    ….Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers. Aristotle .Tutor of the 13-year-old , Alexander (the future Alexander the Great).The quality of Democracy is directly proportional to the quality of the judges. In the Democracy of the Greeks corruption of public servants and the officials of the Republic was punishable by death . The Greeks punished corrupt officials without a second thought for the knowledge and compliance for others.
    We do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.
    ⦁ Pericles commenting the participation of Athenian citizens in politics

  80. avatar
    Kokonas George

    . When a society is completely fair to its members, it is absolutely fair and for itself. When a society protects valiantly and the weakest of its members, it is understandable that it protects with the same bravery and itself against even from the most powerful enemy
    The best political community is formed by citizens of the middle class, and that those states are likely to be well-administered in which the middle class is large, and stronger if possible than both the other classes . . . ; for the addition of the middle class turns the scale, and prevents either of the extremes from being dominant.
    Tyranny occurs when absolute power is granted to a ruler. In a tyrannical government, the ruler becomes corrupt and uses his power to further his own interests instead of working for the common good.

  81. avatar
    Brian Dove

    Ireland has a very democratic electoral system.

  82. avatar

    Perhaps it would have been more constructive to start by defining what democracy is. If you understand democracy as a system that allows regular people to have a say in the politics of their country, how can you describe referendums as not being “a democratic technique”?? On top of that, it seems that Nikolay Nikolov is using euphemisms to subtly advocate for censorship when he states that in countries which oppose the arrival of refugees you need “systems” to “balance” the discourse. If anything, those governments are merely expressing the opinion of most of the population.

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