Greece and particularly the Mitsotakis government received another fillip this week by The Economist, and specifically its affiliated Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), with the latter ranking the east Mediterranean country 20th on its Democracy Index 2023 list and returning it to its “full democracy” category.

The development comes on the heels of last week’s damning European Parliament (EP) resolution regarding the rule of law and press freedom in the country. That resolution was approved by 330 MEPs, while 254 voted against it, with 26 MEPs abstaining.

Buoyed by the passing of controversial legislation on Thursday evening by a Parliament majority to recognize same-sex marriage in Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis shot back at opposition MPs, underling:

“… you were quick to express your indignation, and in various addresses you cited the state of rule of law in our country. What do you have to say now, ladies and gentlemen of the opposition, over the fact that the magazine that is identified, more than any other, as the guardian of rule of law and liberal democracy, the Economist, ranks Greece 20th worldwide in its Democracy Index, upgrading it to a full democracy’ for the first time since 2010?”

In unveiling its Democracy Index 2023, the EIU stressed that “The birthplace of democracy has cause to celebrate, having returned to the ‘full democracy’ classification in the 2023 Democracy Index. Greece scores top marks (ten out of ten) for electoral process and pluralism, an achievement shared by only a dozen others.

“Despite deficiencies in several areas, including media freedom, Greece has a solid score for civil liberties (8.82), for which its score also improved in 2022. Journalists and print media operate with some constraints, but there is rumbustious freedom of expression. In addition, the country’s score for political participation improved in 2023, a year of two parliamentary elections, regional elections and political party elections, and citizens became more engaged in the wake of a devastating rail disaster, wildfires and floods.”

While also citing “deficiencies” with media freedom in the country, EIU reminded that although 20th on its list, Greece “…lags behind the frontrunners in the index in the categories of political culture (7.50), political participation (7.22) and functioning of government (7.14)”.

The respected UK weekly magazine adds:

“Greece had languished in the ‘flawed democracy’ category since 2010, when the Greek sovereign debt crisis led to a prolonged political and economic crisis and social trauma.

The crisis led to a side-lining of the traditional systemic parties and a polarisation of Greek politics between extremes of right and left. The election of New Democracy (ND) under prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in 2019 led to an economic recovery and a gradual improvement in levels of public trust in government. This was demonstrated in the return of a second majority ND government in June 2023.”

The Economist also praised Greece as its “Country of the year for 2023”, in announcing the distinction last December.