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How to do an assessment

The State of Democracy Assessment Framework may be applied in any democracy, regardless of its level of economic development. It consists of five main phases, and it can be used as a whole, in part or targeted at specific priority areas. Assessing the quality of democracy is an exercise that involves several stakeholders and is influenced by a variety of national and context-specific factors, including the size of the country (population and geography) and its level of economic development, types of societal cleavages, level of fragmentation, and history of democracy and democratic stability, to name few. The State of Democracy Assessment Framework takes such differences into account, and is universally applicable. Since 2000, more than 20 countries—as different as Mongolia and Italy, Bangladesh and Peru, Kenya and Australia—have used it. The framework entails a series of standard steps that all assessments should undergo in order to make the best of the assessment experience:

See how an assessment takes place:

  1. Initial decision and agenda setting

    • define purpose, benchmarks and comparators;
    • decide on content, priorities, time frame and resources;
    • select a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary core team and consultative team;
    • compile the range of data sources to be used;
    • plan consultations with a variety of stakeholders; and
    • decide on a publication and dissemination strategy.
  2. Data collection, analysis and organization

    • construct a bibliography;
    • collect, identify and sort data;
    • arrange and prioritize any issues that emerge;
    • confirm answers to search questions; and
    • write a draft assessment report.
  3. National workshop/validation

    • invite all key stakeholders, ensuring a gender balance and the participation of marginalized groups; and
    • link the findings to a reform agenda.
  4. Publication, dissemination and push for reform

    • disseminate results to target audiences; and
    • provide input to reform proposals.
  5. Evaluation and next steps

    • evaluate and assess the assessment process, outputs and outcomes;
    • decide whether to institutionalize the assessment; and
    • engage in follow-up activities.

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