Spanish democracy has suffered a setback due to the Spanish government's "repressive treatment towards pro-independence politicians". In a report published annually by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which studies the democratic quality of different countries around the world, the British think tank has warned that Spain could cease to be considered a "full democracy" and instead become a "flawed democracy ". The report attributed this "significant decline" in the quality of Spanish democracy to the Spanish government's "repressive treatment" towards Catalan politicians and the "attempt" by the State to prevent the 1-O referendum. In the ranking of countries that are considered "full democracies" Spain is last, in the nineteenth position, closely followed by South Korea, the first country that is considered a "flawed democracy." In fact, Spain is the Western European country with the second highest drop in democratic quality, surpassing even Turkey. The report stressed that the "conflict" between Catalonia and the State "will continue" and that, therefore, Spanish democracy could continue to deteriorate.
The index on democracy classifies countries as full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes, and authoritarian regimes. It analyzes five variables: the electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties. In none of these variable does Spain attain the highest score, a 10. Compared with the rest of the countries classified as "full democracies", Spanish democracy receives a particularly low mark on the functioning of its government, political participation, and political culture. The lowest score, however, is on the functioning of the Spanish government.
According to the report, Norway is the most democratic country in the world. In the classification, the Nordic country —which is nearly awarded full marks— has almost a two-point lead over Spain. For its part, North Korea is the least democratic country according to the same report.