Publius looks a indices covering all areas of life – health, wealth, democracy, satisfaction of life, crime, corruption and more – to prove that republics can be shown to be vastly superior to constitutional monarchies.
A leading monarchist, David Flint from the group Australian for Constitutional Monarchy (ACM), recently claimed that on all major indexes constitutional monarchies outperform Republics. Of course, Flint ignores the fact that correlation does not equal causation; that is, Flint fails to explain why monarchies score highly (if, in fact, they do). Indeed, his whole premise – that monarchies outperform republics – does not stand up to scrutiny, as we will soon see in this piece. Flint has merely cherry-picked statistics in which monarchies appear to outperform republics, ignoring dozens of other studies where republics outperform monarchies, sometimes even brutally. Indeed, in the very same reports Flint cites, of greater relevance may be seen such facts as all the top 10 are of European heritage, or that often 40, sometimes 50, per cent of the countries in question have some form of directly elected President—such as Austria, Singapore, France, Finland and Iceland.
In a classic case of overstretch, Flint claims republics cannot match monarchies on any index, and asks for republicans to name just one index where republics do better.
Well, I love it when ACM dares republicans. Of course, there are some indexes republics will always dominate – like the Comprehensive National Power Index – where 6 of the top seven are republics due to their sheer size. But here, for the enlightenment of David, are some of the Indexes in which republics comprise 60 per cent or more of the top 10:
— Mercer City Rankings;
— Global Innovation Index;
— Student Program for International Assessment;
— SC Wealth Index;
— UN Literacy Rate Index;
— Per capita Income Index;
— UN Infant Mortality Index
— Gender Gap Index.
...amongst many others.
Let us look at seven indexes then.
1. Most Liveable Cities in the World
One index republics dominate is the ‘Most Liveable Cities in the World Index’. According to the Mercer City Ranking, which bases its survey on 39 separate criteria, 7 of the top 10 (70%) best cities are in republics: Vienna (1st), Zurich (2nd), Geneva (3rd), Dusseldorf (6th), Frankfurt and Munich (equal 7th), Bern (9th). All the best cities in Europe in the top 10 are Republics, and all the best cities in Africa are also republics (poor Lesotho and Swaziland!).
With other surveys there is a tie. For example, in the Monocle’s Most Liveable Cities: Munich (1st), Zurich (3rd), Helsinki (5th), Paris (7th), Vienna (8th) are all located in republics. However, I somewhat doubt Madrid (10th), which has unemployment in the high teens, will continue to beat Berlin—a close 11th in the 2011 survey. Watch this space.
2. Innovation and education
The Global Innovation Index is a report that discusses not only country performance on patent output, but also what companies are doing – and should be doing – to spur innovation. It looks at new policy indicators for innovation, including tax incentives and policies for immigration, education and intellectual property.
So, how do republics fare? Well, 8 of the top 10 are Republics (80%) are Republics, meaning Republics are the most innovative countries in the world. The index shows Singapore (1st), South Korea (2nd), Switzerland (3rd), Iceland (4th), Ireland (5th), Hong Kong (6th), Finland (7th), US (8th). Of the top 8, all are republics. Of the top 20, at least 60 percent are republics (in both the ‘large countries’ only Index and ‘small and large’ countries innovation index category). At least sixty percent of the countries where the most patents in force were claimed are republics; in fact, in 2008, of the top 10 countries where patents were granted, 8 were Republics.
Although Finland is often cited as the country with the best education system in the world, all (100%) of the top 20 countries with the highest literacy rates are republics. Republics also score well in the Student Program for International Assessment. 7 of the top 10 countries whose students score the best math results are republics. 6 of the top 10 best results in the sciences are republics. Education and innovation are vital for all fields of industry and human progress. Of the top 6 countries with the best maths scores, 100% are Republics. Of the top 4 in the sciences, 100% are Republics. Of the top 5 for reading scores, 100% are Republics.
But, it is not surprising republics – countries of "reason" rather than pageantry – dominate these these indices. After all, it was Einstein (a Swiss-US citizen) who gave us the theory of relativity, it was Swiss microchips that helped launch the last Mars mission and it was America that put a man on the moon. (Note: all republics.)
France, of course, has the best healthcare system in the world. But when it comes to health republics also tend to score highly in the UN Infant Mortality Index. 7 of the top 10 with the lowest mortality rate are republics: Iceland (1st), Singapore (2nd), Hong Kong (6th), Finland (7th), Czech Republic (8h), Switzerland (9th), South Korea (10th). Four of these countries have direct election. In the CIA Factbook, 6 of them are republics. Oh, and 10 of the 10 countries with the lowest suicide rates are Republics! However, Finland, Norway, Belgium and Sweden score high for the chances of committing of suicide—it must get cold up there…
Of the top 10 countries with the longest life expectancies, 6 are Republics: Hong Kong (2nd), Iceland (3rd), Switzerland (4th), Israel (8th), Macau (9th) and France (10th). Extend this to the top 20, and 12 are Republics. Swaziland, a constitutional monarchy, is last in the index for life expectancy — just 32 years; Lesotho, another constitutional monarchy, is fourth from the bottom. Hardly above average performance for African constitutional monarchies — or, to put it bluntly, African constitutional monarchies are the worst performers when it comes to life expectancy, worse even than African Republics!Thus, standardisation reveals clear results: comparable republics, certainly parliamentary republics, do better than comparable politicans'' monarchies in similar jurisdictions.
Hitherto, we have measured social welfare. But how do republics compare with monarchies on per capita wealth — financial and non-financial? Credit Suisse recently performed a survey of the richest countries in the world in terms of the per capita wealth of each adult of the country, with reference to financial assets (like time deposits) and non-financial assets (like property). Three of the top five (60%) wealthiest countries in the world are republics. The head of the (per adult) wealth is dominated by republics, with 3 in the top 5: Switzerland (1st), Singapore (3rd), France (5th). Constitutional monarchies do well, but not as well as republics: Norway and Australia are ranked second and fourth respectively. It is a pity the report stops at the top five, as I would assume that the United States, Hong Kong, San Marino and the various Nordic Republics would be included in the figures in question. Likewise, 3 of the top 5 in the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom are republics: Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland.
And what about the total number of billionaires? Of the 10 countries with the most billionaires, 8 of the countries are republics. In terms of region, republics dominate in each global region.
And what about per capita personal income? 6 of the top 10 are republics: US (1st), Germany (2nd), Switzerland (3rd), Austria (6th), Taiwan (7th) and France (9th). This figure rises to 65% (13 out of 20) once you extend the analysis to the top 20. Unfortunately, these datasets omit Liechtenstein – often ranked the richest country in the world – but which is more or less a Swiss canton—it uses the Swiss franc and the Swiss army for defence and has Swiss banking laws and Swiss tax structures.
It is interesting to note that republics have built their wealth mainly on manufacturing (specialist goods and electrical equipment in case of Switzerland) and capital investment, rather finite natural resources and property speculation. We will have to wait and see whether Norway is able to sustain its wealth once the oil runs out and if Australia has a property bubble that bursts. As usual, laissez-faire capitalist republics do better than monarchical (socialist?) welfare states with natural resources. Watch this space.
5. Equality and Gender
Flint has recently cited the Mothers Index as if somehow republics do not do well for women. Yet according to the 2008 Gender Gap Index, Republics tie with monarchies: 5 are republics, 5 monarchies in the top 10. Extends this to the top 20, 12 are republics – that is, 60 per cent of the top 20 are republics. They are the most egalitarian countries in the world for women are Republics. In 2009 and 2010 reports the same figures emerge.
It is worth comparing apples with apples, however. When it comes to the Nordic countries, Nordic Republics do far better than Nordic monarchies when it comes to the Gender Gap Index. Iceland was ranked 1st in 2009 and 2010. Finland 2nd in 2009 and 3rd in 2010. Of the top 3 countries in Europe for gender equality, 3 are republics – all which have directly elected Presidents under a Parliamentary system of government (Iceland, Finland, and Ireland). The track record for voting rights for women in monarchies is not any rosier: after all, it was Liechtenstein, a constitutional monarchy, that was the last Western country to give women the right to vote in 1984 (but Bahrain followed closely in 2003!), while Finland was the first country in the world to give women full voting and election rights!
6. Free Speech and Media Laws
We all know David Flint loves media law. But, it is worth noting Iceland has the most liberal media laws in the world (according to Freedom House) while 6 of the top 10 countries in the Press Freedom Index 2010 were republics: Finland (1st), Iceland (1st), Switzerland (1st). Three other monarchies tied for first also (Sweden, Netherlands and the Danes). But then the differences between the two systems arise thereafter: Austria (7th), Estonia (9th) and Ireland (10th). (Australia is a lowly 18th and falling.) After the several sharing first place, three of the four are republics. Not a surprise: free speech is, of course, a fundamental republican virtue.
So is freedom from censorship and corruption. While in the top 10 of the Bribe Payers Index 2008 there are 5 republics, of the top 10 least corrupt countries, according to the Global Integrity Report, 8 are republics. And of the countries with no censorship laws, according to the report, 12 of the 13 are republics!
So, Dave baby, let freedom reign!
7. Other Reports
Finally, it may be worth considering the reports Flint cites.
Firstly, Flint selectively chooses his facts and does not critically evaluate their methodology. To parody him, I have done much the same, by focusing on the top 10 or 20 only. Let me give you an example of what I mean: Flint cites the Economists Democracy Index – an index that does not even look at direct democracy or the delta between what the people want and what the people get – and then claims most of the top 10 are monarchies. But why stop there? Why not look at the top 20? Or 30? The entire ''High Democracy group''? Hell, the entire list? As Lewis Holden points out, on average Parliamentary Republics do better than constitutional monarchies (i.e. including Lesotho, Swaziland, PNG, Cambodia, Belgium, Grenada and the like), while constitutional monarchies on average do better than executive Presidencies. This gives us a broader picture, and Parliamentary republics throughout the world do indeed do well. Furthermore, a lot of the countries that rank well are hardly “democracies”: most of their laws are written by the EU. For example, Belgium – a “democracy” – has not been able to form government in over 320 days, surpassing Iraq itself.
Secondly, Flint overlooks the fact prosperity may be contingent. A property bubble or a resource export boom might in the short run provide the illusion of prosperity, but in the long run these countries are all dead. For example, Japan (and Iceland) ranked 1st in the UN Human Development. Today, they both suffer through an economic malaise, although Iceland (a republic) is growing rapidly again, while Japan (a constitutional monarchy) has little hope given its ''Lost Decade'' and its massive debt overhang — public and private. The same is true of the Legatum Prosperity Index. In 2007, a lot of monarchies did well. In 2008, 7 of the top 10 were Republics. It varies.
So, I conclude by reminding all that correlation does not equal causation and for every index that is pro-monarchy, there is one that is pro-Republic. Furthermore, to all people who know their history, when one thinks of the endurance of a country over many centuries one thinks of a handful of countries: San Marino (republic), Switzerland (republic), the United States (republic) and Norway (a constitutional monarchy).