Ireland ranked sixth best democracy in the world

The United States of America comes in at 25th

Ireland ranked sixth best democracy in the world

Government Buildings in Dublin go green on the eve of St Patrick's Day in 2017 | Image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

Ireland has been ranked as the sixth best democracy in the world.

A study by the Economist Intelligence Unit has put Norway, Iceland and Sweden in the top three.

This is followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Canada (who is joint sixth with Ireland) and Finland.

Other European nations like Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain are further down the list - owing to lower scores for things like civil liberties and the electoral process.

While several countries - including Portugal, Italy, France and Greece - are listed as 'flawed' democracies.

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit

The Democracy Index gives a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide for 165 states and two territories.

This covers almost the entire population of the world.

It is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture.

Based on these scores, each country is then classified as one of four types: 'full democracy', 'flawed democracy', 'hybrid regime' and 'authoritarian regime'.

For the first time in three years, the global score for democracy remained stable.

There was also some movement, with Costa Rica moving from a 'flawed democracy' to 'full democracy'.

Conversely, Nicaragua moved from 'flawed regime' to 'authoritarian regime'.

Source:  The Economist Intelligence Unit

Overall, 42 countries experienced a decline in their total score compared with 2017 - 48 saw an increase.

Ireland's ranking was unchanged.

But as a percentage of the global population, fewer people lived in some form of democracy (47.7% compared with 49.3% in 2017).

And very few of these (just 4.5%) were classified as living in a full democracy.

Just over one-third lived under authoritarian rule, with a large share represented by China.

The United States of America comes in at 25th, and is listed as a 'flawed democracy'.

Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and North Korea make up the final three of the index.

In fact, Syria and North Korea both have scores of 'zero' for civil liberties and the electoral process.