Ireland leads World Electoral Freedom Index, according to international study

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The index measures over 50 indicators for 198 countries around the world.

  • Countries are classified and ranked according to their electoral freedom.

  • Ireland ranks first, Australia 5th and the UK 9th in the 2018 edition. Canada is 26th, New Zealand 39th and the USA 44th.


February 2nd. Led by political science Professor José Antonio Peña of the Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Seville, Spain, the World Electoral Freedom Index (WEFI) has just been released in collaboration with Chile’s Universidad Autónoma – sister organisation of the Hibernia Forum. The scientific committee is made up of fourteen professors and specialists from universities in nine countries including Germany, Italy, Portugal, Lebanon, and Argentina.

In its first edition, the index has measured 198 countries around the world. The index is based on 55 basic indicators from official and acknowledged academic sources in order to produce four sub-indices: Political Development, Active Suffrage, Passive Suffrage and Elector Empowerment. Virtually all matters considered by political scientists to assess the integrity and freedom of an electoral system have been taken into account.

The WEFI 2018 is led by Ireland with slightly over 80 points out of a maximum of 100. The top ten is further made up of Iceland (2nd), Switzerland, Finland, Australia, Denmark, Portugal, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom and Lithuania (10th). Only Ireland reaches the top category, “outstanding electoral freedom”, and only the next seven countries obtain the “very high electoral freedom” label. The UK leads the “high electoral freedom” zone.

Most Western European countries are classified as having a “high electoral freedom”, with the remarkable exceptions of Spain (56th), Germany (64th) and Belgium (85th), which fall down to “acceptable electoral freedom”.

Europe and the Americas are by far the best world regions for electoral freedom, with some noticeable exceptions like Russia (134th) and Belarus (163rd) in Europe, or Cuba (186th), Guyana (156th) and Venezuela (102nd) in the Americas.

With a “high” electoral freedom record, the USA are ranked 44th at the WEFI 2018. In the same category, New Zealand is slightly better off and holds the 39th place.

The bottom of the 2018 ranking is shared by countries like North Korea (190th), China (192nd), Saudi Arabia (197th) and Brunei, which comes last as the 198th country.

The index has been presented in several countries, and research has started for its next edition, due in January of 2019. Politicians in several countries, including New Zealand, Singapore or Malaysia, have already reacted to the World Electoral Freedom Index.



About the Foundation publishing the WEFI 2018 report

The Foundation for the Advancement of Liberty is an international think tank and an incubator of non-profits for activism in civil society. It is based in Madrid, Spain. Its mission is to promote the advancement of individual human liberty in all of its areas, and the success of organizations and entities furthering and defending it. The Foundation is a member of the Atlas Network, which includes hundreds of think tanks working for personal and economic freedom around the world.

Further information in both English and Spanish at

Spokespersons for this press release:

  • Juan Pina, Foundation Secretary-General and member of the report’s scientific committee. Languages: English, Spanish or French.


Phone: +34 647 185 989

  • José Antonio Peña, author, WEFI 2018. Language: Spanish.


Phone: +34 657 219 669

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