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International Democracy Day and Why Freedom of the Press Matters

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Every year on September 15th, the world celebrate International Democracy Day. Do you know what is the history of International Democracy Day? The day was established according to a resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 to encourage governments to strengthen and consolidate democracy. International Democracy Day was first celebrated in 2008 and hundreds of parliamentary events have been held around the world. Events held include photo competitions, workshops for children, live televised debates, radio talk shows and meetings with civil society organizations.

Purpose of Commemorating International Democracy Day

  1. Media promotion of the role of government in maintaining open democracy among all UN Charter member states.
  2. Celebrating the value system that democracy promotes.
  3. Gives citizens the power to make decisions about all aspects of their lives
  4. Monitoring elections.
  5. Strengthening democratic institutions and accountability
  6. Help countries recover from conflict to create their own constitutions.

2022 International Democracy Day Theme

This year, the United Nations raised the theme “Protecting Press Freedom for Democracy“. According to the United Nations, the COVID-19 crisis is impacting democracy and generating major challenges globally. The new upheaval in Europe reminds the world that our democratic principles are constantly under threat. Democracy is declining, civic space is shrinking, mistrust, error and disinformation is growing while threats to the freedom of journalists and media workers are expanding day by day. This year, Democracy Day will focus on the importance of media freedom for democracy, peace and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

A free, independent and pluralistic media, which is able to provide information to the public on matters of public interest, is the main element of democracy. This allows the public to make informed decisions and hold governments to account. When media freedom is under threat, the flow of information can be stifled, skewed, or cut off altogether. Journalists around the world face threats to work freely and this can have serious implications for human rights, democracy and development. Message of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for International Democracy Day, stressing that Democracy Cannot Survive Without a Free Press, Freedom of Expression.

Development of Democracy from Time to Time

The use of democracy in aspects of human life has actually existed since the ancient Greek era. Then, the term continues to grow to countries around the world. Here’s the progress.

  1. 350 AD, Aristotle wrote about various types of government, including democracy. The goal is to compare the different systems and which one works best. Aristotle’s writings influenced the development of modern democracy.
  2. 1215 (Magna Carta), King John of England gave up absolute power by signing the Magna Carta. While it does not constitute a democracy, it does form the basis for a parliamentary form of government.
  3. 1789 (US Constitution), The US Constitution establishes government powers for the United States. The constitution also details important government restrictions designed to protect the basic rights of American citizens.
  4. 1893 (Women’s Voting Rights), Women’s right to vote was first established in New Zealand. They allow women to participate in the electoral process.

When Democracy is aging from time to time, its some nation, its still evolve to its best form; here are a list of Countries with the highest democracy index:

  1. Norway: score 9.75
  2. New Zealand: score 9.37
  3. Finland: score 9.27
  4. Sweden: score 9.26
  5. Iceland: score 9.18
  6. Denmark: score 9.09
  7. Ireland: score 9
  8. Taiwan: score 8.99
  9. Australia: score 8.9
  10. Switzerland: score 8.9

The EIU classifies countries into four regime categories, namely full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime, and authoritarian. The countries with the highest scores mentioned above are grouped as full democracies, namely countries with good governance control systems, good judicial and law enforcement systems, good government performance, and diverse and independent mass media.
The EIU Democracy Index is calculated based on five indicators, namely the electoral process and pluralism, government functions, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties. This index attempts to provide an overview of the state of democracy in 165 countries, covering nearly the entire global population and most of the world’s states.

How about Indonesia’s democracy index ranking?

In the EIU index, Indonesia is ranked 52nd in the world with a score of 6.71. The EIU also classifies Indonesia as a country with a flawed democracy. According to the EIU, countries with flawed democracies generally already have free and fair electoral systems, and respect basic civil liberties. However, the country in this group of flawed democracy still has fundamental problems such as low press freedom, an anti-critical political culture, weak citizen political participation, and government performance that has not been optimal. Although it is still classified as ‘disabled’, Indonesia’s democracy index has increased 12 places from the previous year which was ranked 64th in the world.



Written by: Dimas Fadhilah Aprilian Santosa

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