The report - from the International Institute for Democracy and Social Welfare (International IDEA), based in Stockholm - measures the democratic performance of 158 countries since 1975 and seeks to provide a diagnosis of the state of democracies around the world.
Overall, the report shows that the world is becoming more authoritarian and that democratic governments are backing down, resorting to repressive practices and weakening the rule of law.
Regarding Portugal, the report concludes that the democratic regime has suffered a setback in sensitive areas - judicial independence, absence of corruption and equality before the law - being the only country in Western Europe that registers a fall in three evaluation parameters.
In Eastern Europe there are countries – such as Hungary, Poland and Slovenia – that fell in four parameters, but, to the west, the Portuguese regime was the worst compared to the 2019 report.
Even so, in several parameters for measuring the state of democracy, Portugal measures itself positively against the average of the group of Western European countries – which includes Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland or the United Kingdom – and is even above the Southern Europe group average – where it is located, alongside Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey.
In the parameters of government representation, Portugal's score is 0.87, against 0.84 for Western Europe and 0.80 for Southern Europe; in electoral transparency, Portugal's score is 0.92, against 0.90 for Western Europe and 0.84 for Southern Europe; in the freedom of political parties, Portugal's score is 0.79, against 0.76 for Western Europe and 0.75 for Southern Europe; and in civil liberties, Portugal's score is 0.89, against 0.87 for Western Europe and 0.75 for Southern Europe.
The weaknesses of the Portuguese democratic regime are essentially in the areas where the country suffered a setback compared to 2019.
In access to justice, Portugal's score is only 0.71, against 0.87 for Western Europe and 0.74 for Southern Europe; in judicial independence, Portugal's score is 0.74, against 0.78 in Western Europe and 0.64 in Southern Europe; in the absence of corruption, Portugal's score is 0.66, against 0.85 for Western Europe and 0.62 for Southern Europe; and in terms of civil society participation, Portugal's score is 0.58, against 0.81 for Western Europe and 0.62 for Southern Europe.
“Portugal remains in the intermediate group, with regard to the quality of democracy. And it even reveals very positive indices in several parameters. The greatest weakness seems to lie in the application of justice and the effort to fight corruption”, said Kevin Casas-Zamora, secretary general of the International IDEA.
On the parameter of corruption, Casas-Zamora attributes the most worrying signs to an increase in the public visibility of the problem in Portugal.
“As far as we can tell, there have been a series of judicial investigations that have revealed serious problems of corruption involving judges and high-ranking political leaders”, concluded Casas-Zamora.