Rankings in this year’s Human Freedom Index (HFI) were released on Tuesday with Portugal’s 25th place-listing described nationally as “mediocre”. This is in stark contrast to the way American journalists’ interpret the USA’s ranking – at number 20 five places ahead of Portugal. “US stinks again”, stormed PJ media. Thus, as with many global reports, it depends on what you read, as what you understand.
Here, it was Blasting News website that described Portugal’s result as mediocre, adding that this “contradicts the current government and deficient legislation existent in our country”.
State-funded Lusa news agency does not allow itself to be drawn on any interpretation, running instead with a question mark: “Human Freedom Index lead by Hong Kong. And Portugal?”
Portugal’s ranking – ahead of 127 countries – is however the highest among Portuguese-speaking countries.
Cape Verde, for example, ranks in 54th place, Brazil in 82nd, East Timor (103), Mozambique (116), Guinea-Bissau (131) and Angola right down near the bottom of the 152 countries analysed at 135.
So which countries are the tops, other than Hong Kong?
The study, conducted by the US Cato Institute – which describes itself as a think tank dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace – shows that up in the Top Ten of countries offering human freedom are Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, UK and Sweden.
According to the authors of the study, the HFI “is the most comprehensive index on freedom yet created for a globally meaningful set of countries”.
It looks at “76 indicators to capture the degree to which people are free to engage in voluntary exchange and enjoy major liberties such as freedom of speech, religion, and association”.
The countries at the top of the list “enjoy a significantly higher per capita income”, which Lusa presents as showing the “strong correlation between human freedom and democracy”.