Since its launch in 2017, the Global State of Democracy (GSoD) report has prompted great interest from international media and policymakers around the world, cementing its reputation as an authoritative source on democracy worldwide. The report has generated more downloads than any other publication in International IDEA’s history. The 2017 and 2019 iterations of the report together generated over 34,000 downloads; the second report generated more than twice as many downloads as the first in half the amount of time and 23,645 downloads from November 2019 to November 2020. Policymakers, civil society organizations, journalists and academics from more than 173 countries and territories around the world have used the analysis and data to develop strategies and hold policymakers to account. The report has also been cited in more than 475 media articles from 304 outlets in 61 countries since November 2017; the 2019 report generated more than half of those (275 media articles) in the first four months after its publication. The GSoD Indices have also become more visible in 2020: visits to the site quadrupled in 2020 compared to 2019.
The Swedish international development cooperation agency, Sida, has used the GSoD data and analysis as a reference in its democracy analysis and democracy support programmes. For example, Sida’s 2020 Strategic Report in support of political party organizations referenced GSoD data. The Swedish Ministry of Culture also made use of the GSoD report in their Democracy Strategy for 2018-2022. In addition, International IDEA has provided various training sessions on the GSoD Indices to Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Sida staff.
Hans, Ola and Anna Rosling’s public education foundation Gapminder have used the GSoD Indices as part of their publication education visualizations on sustainable development; they expanded their field into the democracy arena in 2018. Gapminder now features the GSoD Indices on the data section of their website, so readers can use International IDEA’s data to generate Gapminder’s famous ‘bubble’ presentations. Ola Rosling, Gapminder’s founder and director, participated in and delivered a speech at the 2019 GSoD launch in Stockholm, where he stated his great appreciation for the GSoD Indices’ enriching contribution to the global democracy field.
‘This dataset (GSoD Indices) is richer than any other I have ever seen.’
Ola Rosling, Founder of Gapminder
The report has also received interest from the World Bank, where the Governance Global Practice organized an interactive session to present the key findings of the GSoD 2019 report. Moreover, GSoD Indices data is featured in the World Bank’s GovData360 portal, which compiles key governance indicators for all countries in the world.
The GSoD Indices have also generated interest from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director of the UNDP’s Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy, Gulden Turkoz-Cosslett, participated in the panel launch of the GSoD 2019 report at the United Nations in New York in December 2019. On Anticorruption Day in December 2020, the UNDP tweeted a statement, referencing data from the GSoD Indices.
‘The report provides important points for organizations like the UN to pick up on, and it is important to understand the role that democracy has on sustainable development. The data collected by this report and provided are of immense importance.’
Gulden Turkoz-Cosslett, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director of the Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy,
The GSoD Programme provides stakeholders, including policymakers and civil society representatives, an in-depth assessment of the global democracy landscape with the aim of influencing and informing policy interventions. A success in this regard has been the continuous usage of GSoD data and analysis by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Sweden’s missions abroad, widely applied throughout the department as well as at the regional level.
‘The GSoD database and indices has been extensively used by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in various ambassador and department meetings. We have created a number of diagrams based on the GSoD data that have been very useful in presentations to our colleagues in the MFA as well as its political leadership.'
Anna Jakenberg Brinck, Deputy Director and Head of Democracy and Development Unit, Sweden's Ministry for Foreign Affairs
The programme also aspires to spread its knowledge beyond the policymaking community. Outreach to an international audience of students and opinion makers within academia and research institutions has increased the usage of GSoD data and knowledge products for both academic courses and research. At least 36 universities around the world have used GSoD knowledge products and data for their courses or research. A few examples include:
- Fordham University, New York, USA. A professor at the Department of Political Science requested numerous printed copies of the GSoD 2019 report for his students to use as a reference during his seminar ‘The World of Democracy’.
- University of Southern California, USA. Two courses assigned the GSoD 2019 report as required reading in Spring 2020—the undergraduate-level ‘Global Democratization’ and the graduate-level ‘Democracy and Democratization’.
- Stockholm University, Sweden. The core undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of multiple courses in the Political Science Department have used GSoD analyses and products. The Director of Studies for the Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies, Martin Säfström, has also incorporated the GSoD into the curriculum of several Middle East/North African politics and development courses.
- Södertörn University, Sweden. The course ‘Comparative Governance’ references GSoD data and analysis in the study of political regimes and development of democracies over the last 50 years.
‘The GSoD report measures the main components of democracy, looks into the future and studies potential problems. The report is useful for both scholars and practitioners because of the significant statistical data it offers.’
Abraham Lowenthal, Professor Emeritus of International Relations, University of Southern California
Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde praised the invaluable evidence provided by the GSoD report and the Covid-19 Global Monitor in her speech at International IDEA’s 25th anniversary global conference. She recognized the initiative as ‘a crucial reference point for monitoring challenges to human rights and the development of democracy around the world’.
Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation Peter Eriksson publicly celebrated the GSoD initiative by praising its quality in social media, highlighting the importance of International IDEA’s work during our 25th anniversary.
The GSoD in Focus was quoted in several international and national newspapers, including Dagens Nyheter, BBC and El Pais, and was discussed on TV4 in Sweden’s ‘Nyhetsmorgon’ and will be featured on ‘Vetenskapens Värld’, a scientific programme on Swedish television. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has also contacted International IDEA to conduct a seminar for its staff on the findings of the GSoD in Focus.
Feature photo: Launch of GSoD 2019 report at International IDEA HQ in Stockholm.