Protests in Ukraine, Venezuela and Thailand have made the headlines over the past few months, all with seemingly different causes and outcomes. What lessons, if any, can be drawn from events in these three countries? asks the Legatum Institute’s Joana Alfaiate.
Data from the Legatum Institute’s 2013 Prosperity Index™ reveals that each of these countries present comparatively low scores in two categories: Governance and Personal Freedom. Do these scores offer a good retrospective analysis of the factors that would influence current events? Were these countries cooking up a recipe for revolt right before our eyes?
Ukraine ranks 121st out of 142 countries in the Governance category (placing between Iran and the Central African Republic). Government approval is low at 27%, indicating that even pro-Russian regions of Ukraine are not satisfied with government policies (see more on Ukraine at Where is Ukraine?). For Venezuela, every single objective measurement of Governance has declined in 2013. Consequently, the country has dropped five places in the Governance rankings to 127th, placing between Liberia and Cameroon. For all their differences, it is striking how both countries present low Governance scores and how that reflects their current situations.
In Thailand, the same data seems to paint a different picture, with Governance scores having improved over the last five years. However, some key indicators do reveal similarities with Ukraine and Venezuela. It is undeniable that governance has a very large part to play here, with more people believing that corruption is widespread (87% in 2013 against 83% in 2010), and objective indicators for rule of law and regulation quality declining since 2009. Add the stark political divisions within Thailand and you begin to uncover the underlying drivers of recent protests.
Joana Alfaiate is a Research Analyst at the Legatum Institute.