COVID-19 Data Analysis-4.4 (Rule by Order/Rule of Law) print   
joongmin  Email [2020-08-26 15:25:05]  HIT : 6  

Preference Between Rule by Order and Rule of Law by Global Citizens


1.    Background

During the pandemic crisis, a government is supposed to expand its role and actively engage in social life to protect public health and social sustainability; however, there could be disproportionate use of force and excessive exercise of governmental authority. For years, the rule of law has been regarded as the founding principle of democracy. It is foundational to people’s access to public services, curbing corruption, restraining the abuse of power, and to establishing the social contract between people and the state. Also, the rule of law is a core element of the humanitarian and human rights agendas.[1] However, the unprecedented COVID-19 has the potential for abuse of the situation and a negative impact on the rule of law. For understanding global citizens’ deliberation on discretional power during a state of emergency, we surveyed citizens of 30 global cities whether they think it is always justifiable regardless of the law or they reckon that it should be only within the procedure and confines of the law.


2.    Research Topic

We define discretional power that is always tolerable as “Rule by Order”, and that is not always permitted and should be confined within the law as “Rule of Law”. This analysis will focus on whether citizens are allowing a government to have discretional power during an abnormal time or not.


3.    Questionnaire Used

Survey Question II-3: “The options below show two divergent opinions about how to respond to the recent state of emergency. On a scale from 1-10, please identify the point you feel most closely matches your opinion. Discretional power during a state of emergency is always justifiable regardless of the law and discretional power is only justifiable within the procedure and confines of the law.”

The answers consist of a 10-point scale, with higher scores indicating an individual who emphasizes more on the rule of law and lower scores demonstrating a person who underlines rule by order.


4.    Major Outcomes

Table 1: Rule by Order Index (ROI) and Rule of Law Index (RLI)
by Citizens of 30 Global Cities


Rule by Order Index (ROI) represents citizens’ allowance of a government on discretional power during the crisis, and the higher the score is, the more an individual permit on discretional power regardless of the law. Contrarily, the higher Rule of Law Index (RLI) score is, the more a citizen highlight the rule of law, and less likely to tolerate any discretional power out of the law. The average scores of each city indicate the Rule of Law Index (RLI), and 11 minus RLI demonstrates Rule by Order Index (ROI). The numerical differences between the two were calculated in order to show which side a city is putting more allowance. To illustrate, negative numbers of the numerical differences imply that citizens of that city put more stress on the rule of law rather than rule by order. Also, the lower a numerical difference is, the fewer citizens of the city tolerate the discretional power out of law during the crisis.

Table 2: Average Rule of Law Index (RLI) by Region


Average Rule of Law Index (1 – 10)

East Asia


Southeast/South Asia


North America




Latin America





The scores in the table are the average Rule of Law Index (RLI) of the global citizens by region. To be specific, the lowest score of 5.46 was rated by East Asian citizens on average. It demonstrates that people in this region tend to deem that the law could be broken at a time of crisis. On the contrary, the highest score of 6.44 was rated by Latin American citizens, which illustrates that people here highlight the most on the rule of law than the rule by order.

Figure 1: Bar Graph of Average Rule of Law Index by Region


Figure 1 is the visualized graph of Table 2, and the orange line is the world average Rule of Law Index. The graph identifies that South/Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Europe are more inclined to protect the rule of law when compared to other regions in the world. On the other hand, East Asian people are showing the least interest in guarding the law during the pandemic crisis. This outcome is totally distinguished from the previous analysis on Government Decisions Index and Citizen Requests Index, in which South/Southeast Asian citizens show a high interest in the government’s role, however, they still are not willing any discretional power of a government beyond the law. Nevertheless, a high RLI does not simply indicate that the region’s governance is under the good guidance of the rule of law. South/Southeast Asian and Latin American citizens’ belief that the rule of law is more crucial than the rule by order may be due to the lack of the rule of law in the region.

Figure 2: Line Graph of Rule of Law Index (RLI) and Rule by Order Index (ROI)


To identify the preference for rule of law and rule by order during the emergency by each city, a line graph is drawn, as seen in Figure 2. The most outstanding finding of Figure 2 is that most of RLIs are higher than ROIs. It demonstrates that citizens generally regard that the law should be obeyed even during the state of emergency. This result is different from the previous analysis which shows that most cities rely more on governments than civil society. Even though people would like to give much room for governments to make decisions in the midst of the crisis, they generally would not allow a government to break the law and go beyond the rule of law. However, citizens in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan think highly of the government’s role and they could tolerate the discretional power regardless of the law.

Figure 3: Bar Graph of Numerical Difference between Government Decisions Index (GDI) and Citizen Requests Index (CRI)


The differences between ROIs and RLIs are drawn as a bar graph, shown in Figure 2. The orange bar indicates the global average difference score (-0.87). The bigger the difference scores, the more citizens are weighing on the rule of law even in the middle of the emergency. However, South Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese regard the rule of law less seriously than citizens in other parts of the world. All in all, since the global average is a negative number, and therefore, generally speaking, global citizens assume that the rule is ought to be obeyed and the decision-making procedure should be within the law.


5.    Summaries and Further Tasks

a.     Generally speaking, global citizens regard the rule of law as important.

b.     Global citizens prioritize rule of law than rule by order during the COVID-19 era since the numeric difference scores of Rule or Order Index (ROI) and Rule of Law Index (RLI) are negative. Yet, Seoul, Daegu, Osaka, Tokyo, and Taipei show the positive difference between the two, implying that the citizens in these cities tolerate the discretional power regardless of the law during the crisis.

c.     South/Southeast Asian, Latin American, and European average RLIs are higher than the global average, indicating these regions are sensitive about defending the rule of law.

d.     The study is limited to descriptive research, and therefore, a more detailed explanative investigation is required to further understand the global citizens’ consciousness presented above. For instance, rule of law has been an important value deemed by Americans for decades, but why North American citizens represented by citizens in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto are showing less interest in rule of law? Why people in East Asia consider the discretional power is justifiable regardless of the law? Followed by the previous COVID-19 analysis 4.3 (GDI and CRI), how come Japanese stress on citizens’ requests and rule by the order simultaneously?

[1] UN, “What is the Rule of Law”,

     75. Survey on Citizens in 30 Global Cities (The Second Media Briefing on COVID-19 Survey)