Israel demoted from ‘liberal democracy’ in new global democracy report

The V-Dem Institute’s annual report relegated Israel to the status of ‘electoral democracy’ after 50 years as liberal democracy


(Photo by OREN BEN HAKOON/AFP via Getty Images)

An international democracy watchdog has demoted Israel from the category of liberal democracy to “electoral democracy” for the first time in 50 years according to its 2024 annual global democracy index report.

The V-Dem Institute, whose yearly index provides a dataset to measure five high-level principles of democracy and apply them to each country, has found cause to downgrade Israel from the top-tier category of liberal democracy to the lower category of electoral democracy. Established in 2014, V-Dem had retroactively classed Israel as a liberal democracy since 1973.

This year, however, Israel has been demoted due to “substantial declines in the indicators measuring the transparency and predictability of the law, and government attacks on the judiciary.”

The index points to the Knesset’s passage of a 2023 bill which sought to strip the Supreme Court of the power to declare government decisions “unreasonable,” citing the motion as an infringement upon the judiciary.

The report added: “Indicators that are in substantive decline also include freedom from torture.”

From most free to least free, the categories applied to countries are as follows: Liberal Democracy, Electoral Democracy, Democratic Grey Zone, Autocratic Grey Zone, Electoral Autocracy and Closed Autocracy.

According to V-Dem's definition, a liberal democracy protects “individual and minority rights against both the tyranny of the state and the tyranny of the majority,” which it upholds through “constitutionally-protected civil liberties, strong rule of law, and effective checks and balances that limit the use of executive power.”

For a country to have a liberal democracy it must exceed the criterion for an electoral democracy, which places less emphasis on the rights of the individual but maintains the foundational elements required of a democracy: free and fair multiparty elections; satisfactory degrees of suffrage; freedom of expression; freedom of association.

Other countries that fell from being classed as liberal democracies to electoral democracies were Portugal, Cyprus and Slovenia. Maintaining their classification as electoral democracies in 2024 were Austria, Greece, Jamaica, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Namibia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vanuatu.

The countries that maintained their ranking as liberal democracies included the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand. Canada, meanwhile, rose a rank from electoral to liberal democracy, as did Suriname in South America.

Despite being the most common regime type in the world, 59 electoral democracies host only 16% of the world’s population, according to the V-Dem report. The 32 liberal democracies are home to 13 per cent of the world’s population.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive