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the democracy index is a weighted average based on the answers of 60 questions, each one with either two or three permitted alternative answers.Most answers are "experts' assessments"; the report does not indicate what kinds of experts, nor their number, nor whether the experts are employees of the Economist Intelligence Unit or independent scholars, nor the nationalities of the experts.Finally, the Democracy Index, rounded to two decimals, decides the regime type classification of the country.The report discusses other indices of democracy, as defined e.g.In a few cases, an answer yielding zero for one question voids another question; e.g., if the elections for the national legislature and head of government are not considered free (question 1), then the next question, "Are elections... " is not considered, but automatically marked zero.Likewise, there are a few questions considered so important that a low score on them yields a penalty on the total score sum for their respective categories, namely: The five category indices, which are listed in the report, are then averaged to find the Democracy Index for a given country.Russia was downgraded from a hybrid regime to an authoritarian regime, which the report attributes to concerns over the December 4 legislative election and Vladimir Putin's decision to run again in the 2012 presidential election.Portugal was also downgraded to the flawed democracy category, attributed to the effects of the global financial crisis.

Hybrid regimes are nations where consequential irregularities exist in elections regularly preventing them from being fair and free.

Tunisia, Mauritania, Egypt, and Niger were all upgraded to hybrid regimes, and Zambia moved up to the flawed democracy category.

In 2016, the United States was downgraded from a full democracy to a flawed democracy; its score, which had been experiencing a persistent downward trend, crossed the threshold from 8.05 in 2015 to 7.98 in 2016.

With the exceptions mentioned below, the sums are added within each category, multiplied by ten, and divided by the total number of questions within the category.

There are a few modifying dependencies, which are explained much more precisely than the main rule procedures.