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Old September 7th, 2017, 03:53 PM   #1

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Norway's Democracy Index


Hello Everyone,

I'm engaging in a semester-long project for my Government program in which I'm comparing Norway to China on the basis of several metrics that factor into their Democracy Index. Before I get into a bunch of distracting figures and data, I wanted to reach out to see if some of you can give me a more personal understanding of why Norway enjoys being the most democratic country on Earth. Is it solely on the basis of its government structure? Citizen participation? Your views are most welcome and very appreciated!
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Old September 8th, 2017, 12:26 PM   #2
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How do you measure democracy? In theory direct democracy with a full adult citizen franchise is the standard against which democracy might be measured. A few Swiss cantons have this but Norway, like virually all electoral democracies, has indirect (representative) democracy. Switzerland and some US states allow initative and referendum for legislation and the UK Parliament can call for national referenda. However, it's not clear direct democracy means good government. I think public levels of satisfaction with their government is the best measure of good government. On this, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland generally score high among nations.

Last edited by stevev; September 8th, 2017 at 12:42 PM.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 10:36 AM   #3
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The problem with indexes is that they are rarely objective and tend to reflect the ideals and objectives of whoever came up with the index....

You can manipulate figures at will by introducing categories and weighing them to obtain the desired result

For example Norway is sitting on almost a trillion dollar of reserves yet it has very high taxes (and not enough money for police helicopters which allowed Breivik to go on his killing spree undisturbed)... This alone makes me doubt very much the concept that Norwegian democracy is very advanced

And secondly, with all due respect, comparing Norway to China makes as much sense as comparing an ant to a whale... They're just 2 entirely different entities..

China is continent sized with over 1.3 billion people while the whole of Norway has less population than a medium size chinese city
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Old September 20th, 2017, 10:40 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by stevev View Post
I think public levels of satisfaction with their government is the best measure of good government. On this, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland generally score high among nations.
If the country is wealthy, the public tends to be satisfied.. If its poor it tends to be dissatisfied...... So I would disagree public satisfaction is a good measure of good government (going into cliche mode, germans were satisfied with Hitler and his government up till ww2)
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Old September 20th, 2017, 01:45 PM   #5

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Originally Posted by tomar View Post


And secondly, with all due respect, comparing Norway to China makes as much sense as comparing an ant to a whale... They're just 2 entirely different entities..
Also with all due respect, I have to say I totally agree. (my apologies, tomar, I'll try make it happen for the last time )

Parmenides, IMHO, the comparison isn't that worthy: those entities are so different, and differences are so evident that IDK if it's worth an analysis.

Two entities somehow closer, it's a more interesting /challenging project. IDK, China - Vietnam, Norway - Holland, things like that.
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Old September 21st, 2017, 11:18 AM   #6
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If the country is wealthy, the public tends to be satisfied.. If its poor it tends to be dissatisfied...... So I would disagree public satisfaction is a good measure of good government (going into cliche mode, germans were satisfied with Hitler and his government up till ww2)
In democracies it generally is. Obviously in authoritarian regimes dissatisfaction is discouraged. You can cite a few instances where a dictatorship improved living conditions after a failed democracy. For the most part, in a democracy the quality of government, as judged by the people is a better value than some academic index of democratic institutions IMO.

The US is a rich country, although not the richest in GDP per capita. Yet there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current government even with positive economic indexes.

Last edited by stevev; September 21st, 2017 at 11:54 AM.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 06:03 AM   #7
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In democracies it generally is. Obviously in authoritarian regimes dissatisfaction is discouraged. You can cite a few instances where a dictatorship improved living conditions after a failed democracy. For the most part, in a democracy the quality of government, as judged by the people is a better value than some academic index of democratic institutions IMO.

The US is a rich country, although not the richest in GDP per capita. Yet there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current government even with positive economic indexes.
"quality of governmnent as judged by the people".... you do realize this is quite subjective, is it not ? do you have a rating of this by country ?
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 10:32 AM   #8
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"quality of governmnent as judged by the people".... you do realize this is quite subjective, is it not ? do you have a rating of this by country ?
Of course it's subjective. In a democracy people vote. What do you think determines their vote? They can consult informed opinion, simply rely on their own opinion or some combination. All the analysis in the world isn't going change minds if they are unhappy with the government.

You previously stated that people are generally happy with government in rich countries, but not in poor countries. Understanding that we are talking about democracies, I gave you a significant counter-example. The US qualifies as a rich country but less than 40% approve of the present government in spite of good economic numbers. Care to comment on that?
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 11:14 AM   #9
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Of course it's subjective. In a democracy people vote. What do you think determines their vote? They can consult informed opinion, simply rely on their own opinion or some combination. All the analysis in the world isn't going change minds if they are unhappy with the government.

You previously stated that people are generally happy with government in rich countries, but not in poor countries. Understanding that we are talking about democracies, I gave you a significant counter-example. The US qualifies as a rich country but less than 40% approve of the present government in spite of good economic numbers. Care to comment on that?
That is why I said "generally".... its not a hard and fast rule

And the current US case I assume that much of the dissatisfaction is with one particular character, the current POTUS....Not least thanks to the one sided propaganda of much of the media.... the "government" is actually made up of much the same people as before.... Were the people happier with them before the change of POTUS ? If so that rather demonstrates that your proposed approach does not work....


Unless you have a listing of "people satisfaction with government" for various countries there is really not much to discuss
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 12:18 PM   #10
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That is why I said "generally".... its not a hard and fast ruleUnless you have a listing of "people satisfaction with government" for various countries there is really not much to discuss
Pew Research Global Satisfaction Map - Business Insider

The original question was about indexes of democracy and how they could be improved. Norway was the specific example. "Index of Democracy" was not defined, so I suggested direct democracy with full adult citizen franchise would be logically the most "democratic". But direct democracy implies that citizens get to vote on all legislation (or least all that meets some threshold importance). It also means that while there would still be executive management of government affairs, the people could initiate changes in the executive by initiative and referendum.

No country has true direct democracy and even though its possibly feasible in the electronic age, I don't think it would necessarily bring good government. What is good government? Can we specify what that is for every country with a single model? I doubt it. It seems it's what truly satisfies the population is terms of the general direction of the country.

As you can see, China tops the list. It's not even a democracy, or least what the "West" would call a democracy. Perhaps because of this it can be ignored, but if we focus on just the democracies it's interesting but incomplete.

Note: The polling was done in 2013 so Venezuala is probably much lower now.

Last edited by stevev; September 22nd, 2017 at 12:40 PM.
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