About

The Global State of Democracy Indices (GSoD Indices) depict democratic trends at the country, regional and global levels across a broad range of different attributes of democracy in the period 1975–2017. They do not provide a single index of democracy.

They produce data for 158 countries across the globe. The data underlying the GSoD indices is based on 97 indicators devised by various scholars and organizations using different types of sources: expert surveys, standards-based coding by research groups and analysts, observational data and composite measures. The Varieties of Democracy project is the largest contributor of indicators to the Global State of Democracies Indices.

The GSoD indices consist of attribute and subattribute scores per country per year for the period 1975–2017. All scoring runs from 0 to 1, with 0 representing the lowest achievement in the whole sample and 1 the highest.

Below is a short summary of the attributes. For more information, please see the GSoD Indices Methodology, Technical guide and Codebook in the Data set and Resources section of this website. For an overview of questions and answers about the indices, please visit our FAQs.

Overview of Attributes

Democracy is conceptualized as popular control over public decision-making and decision-makers, and equality of respect and voice between citizens in the exercise of that control. These principles have been translated into 5 main democracy attributes that cover 16 subattributes in total.

Summary of Attributes

1. Representative Government

Representative Government measures free and equal access to political power. Of the five attributes of democracy outlined by the Global State of Democracy indices, Representative Government is arguably the most essential as it emphasizes contested and inclusive popular elections for legislative and directly or indirectly elected executives.

1.1 Clean Elections

This subattribute denotes the extent to which elections for national, representative political office are free from irregularities, such as flaws and biases in the voter registration and campaign processes, voter intimidation.

Six indicators are included to capture the clean elections subattribute based on in-house coding and/or expert surveys from V-Dem and LIED. All of the selected indicators tap into the quality of elections. One of the V-Dem indicators and the LIED indicator reflect free elections more generally, whereas the other V-Dem indicators capture more specific aspects of this feature, such as irregularities in voter registration, EMB autonomy and capacity, and government intimidation.

 

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

1.1.1

EMB autonomy

 

Expert Survey: Does the election management body (EMB) have autonomy from government to apply election laws and administrative rules impartially in national elections?

V-Dem

 

1.1.2

EMB capacity

 

Expert Survey: Does the Election Management Body (EMB) have sufficient staff and resources to administer a well-run national election?

V-Dem

 

1.1.3

Election other voting irregularities

 

Expert Survey: In this national election, was there evidence of other intentional irregularities by incumbent and/or opposition parties, and/or vote fraud?

V-Dem

 

1.1.4

Election government intimidation

 

Expert Survey: In this national election, were opposition candidates/parties/campaign workers subjected to repression, intimidation, violence or harassment by the government, the ruling party or their agents?

V-Dem

 

1.1.5

Election free and fair

 

Expert Survey: Expert Survey: Taking all aspects of the pre-election period, election day and the post-election process into account, would you consider this national election to be free and fair?

V-Dem

 

1.1.6

Competition

 

Standards Based Coding: The chief executive offices and seats in the effective legislative body are filled by elections characterized by uncertainty, meaning that the elections are, in principle, sufficiently free to enable the opposition to gain power if it were to attract sufficient support from the electorate.

LIED

 

 

1.2 Inclusive Suffrage

This subattribute denotes the extent to which adult citizens have equal and universal passive and active voting rights.

To measure Inclusive Suffrage, two V-Dem indicators are used. One of them designates the percentage of enfranchised adult citizens. The indicator only captures the formal regulations for citizens, however, and not the extent to which non-citizens can vote or the extent to which some people might informally be restricted in casting their votes. Once suffrage has formally been granted, the indicator does not capture whether it disappears in practice in the event of a coup, suspension/abolition of the constitution or a military regime that does not hold elections, unless a new constitution formally establishes a non-electoral regime or suffrage restrictions.

To rectify this, the indicator is set to 0, based on the V-Dem electoral regime indicator, when elections are not on track due to some kind of interruption. This also applies to the other indicator, which refers to another important aspect of Inclusive Suffrage, namely, irregularities in voter registration. Indicators on the actual distribution of political power across social classes, social identity groups and gender are used to operationalize social rights.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

1.2.1

Suffrage

 

Observational Data: What percentage (%) of adult citizens (as defined by statute) has the legal right to vote in national elections?

V-Dem

 

1.2.2

Election Voter Registry

Expert Survey: In this national election, was there a reasonably accurate voter registry in place and was it used?

V-Dem

 

1.3 Free Political Parties

This subattribute denotes the extent to which political parties are free to form and campaign for political office.

Six indicators from V-Dem, Polity and LIED, partly based on expert surveys and partly in-house coded, are used to measure how free political parties are. All of them reflect whether political parties more generally, and opposition parties in particular, are allowed to organize freely and stand in elections. The election-based V-Dem indicator was adjusted to fit the country–year format and together with the LIED indicator set to 0 based on the V-Dem electoral regime indicator if elections were not on track.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

1.3.1

Party ban

Expert Survey: Are any political parties banned?

V-Dem

1.3.2

Barriers to parties

Expert Survey: How restrictive are the barriers to forming a party?

V-Dem

1.3.3

Opposition parties’ autonomy

 

Expert Survey: Are opposition parties independent and autonomous of the ruling regime?

V-Dem

1.3.4

Elections multiparty

Expert Survey: Was this national election multiparty?

V-Dem

1.3.5

Competitiveness of participation

Standards Based Coding: The competitiveness of participation refers to the extent to which alternative preferences for policy and leadership can be pursued in the political arena.

Polity

1.3.6

Multiparty elections

 

Standards Based Coding: The lower house (or unicameral chamber) of the legislature is (at least in part) elected by voters faced with more than one choice. Specifically, parties are not banned and more than one party is allowed to compete or elections are non-partisan (i.e. all candidates run without party labels).

LIED

 

 

1.4 Elected Government

This subattribute denotes the extent to which national, representative government offices are filled through elections.

This subattribute, is operationalized using four indicators from V-Dem, Polity and BRRD. The V-Dem indicator, developed by Jan Teorell, is a composite measure based on expert coded data, in-house coded data and observational data. It captures whether the chief executive is elected (directly or indirectly) through popular elections, and whether there is a parliament with elected members. The in-house coded Polity and BRRD indicators capture whether political power is formally and in practice vested in contested elected offices. The two lowest values of one of the Polity indicators (openness of executive recruitment) were collapsed because they both refer to non- electoral practices.

 

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

1.4.1

Elected executive index

Composite Measure: Are the chief executive and legislature appointed through popular elections? Measure based on 16 variables from expert survey data, in-house coded data and observational data collected by V-Dem.

V-Dem

1.4.2

Competitiveness

of executive recruitment

 

Standards Based Coding: Competitiveness refers to the extent that prevailing modes of advancement give subordinates equal opportunities to become superordinates.

Polity

1.4.3

Openness of executive recruitment

 

Standards Based Coding: Recruitment of the chief executive is ‘open’ to the extent that all the politically active population has an opportunity, in principle, to attain the position through a regularized process.

Polity

 

1.4.4

Electoral

 

Standards Based Coding: Does a country have no regular elections, elections in an effectively one- party state, elections with opposition parties but without an actual chance of government change, or full democracy?

Bjørnskov and Rode

 

2. Fundamental Rights

The Fundamental Rights attribute measures individual liberties and access to resources. This attribute of democracy draws heavily from liberal and egalitarian democratic theories. It emphasizes liberal and social rights that support both fair representation and the vertical mechanism of accountability that the Representative Government attribute seeks to achieve.

This attribute has significant overlap with the rights and liberties covered by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (with the exception of article 25, which refers to representative government captured by attribute 1), as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  

2.1 Access to Justice

This subattribute denotes the extent to which the legal system is fair (citizens are not subject to arbitrary arrest or detention and have the right to be under the jurisdiction of—and to seek redress from—competent, independent and impartial tribunals without undue delay).

V-Dem offers four expert-coded variables on elements of access to justice that go beyond the independence of the courts.  Two of them are based on questions that ask directly whether access to justice is secure and effective for men and women. The others are more concrete as they are based on questions relating to judicial corruption and the removal of judges for misconduct. V-Dem indicators are supplemented with an in-house coded CLD measure of the right to a fair trial. Note that the independence of the courts is captured in the Judicial Independence subattribute under the Checks on Government attribute.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

2.1.1

Access to justice for men

 

Expert Survey: Do men enjoy secure and effective access to justice?

V-Dem

2.1.2

Access to justice for women

Expert Survey: Do women enjoy equal, secure and effective access to justice?

V-Dem

2.1.3

Judicial corruption decision

Expert Survey: How often do individuals or businesses make undocumented extra payments or bribes in order to speed up or delay the process or to obtain a favourable judicial decision?

V-Dem

2.1.4

Judicial accountability

Expert Survey: When judges are found responsible for serious misconduct, how often are they removed from their posts or otherwise disciplined?

V-Dem

2.1.5

Fair trial

Standards Based Coding: Extent to which citizens have the right to a fair trial in practice, that is, they are not subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile; they have the right to recognition as a person before the law, the right to be under the jurisdiction of, and to seek redress from, competent, independent and impartial tribunals, and the right to be heard; and they are entitled to trial without undue delay if arrested, detained or charged with a criminal offence.

CLD

 

 

2.2 Civil Liberties

This subattribute denotes the extent to which civil rights and liberties are respected (citizens enjoy the freedoms of expression, association, religion, movement, and personal integrity and security).

For the Civil Liberties subattribute five subcomponents have been constructed. Each of which reflect core concepts in the human rights literature.  The construction of these subcomponent indices enables data users to carry out more focused and disaggregated analyses using measures that have stronger conceptual coherence than highly aggregated indices. Moreover, some of these subcomponent indices help capture some of the issues emphasized in the work of International IDEA in a clearer and more specific way. The so-called cross-cutting themes are gender, diversity and conflict sensitivity.

2.2.A Freedom of Expression

The Freedom of Expression subcomponent denotes the extent the public are able to openly discuss political issues. 

This subcomponent is measured using seven indicators based on expert surveys from V-Dem and one in-house coded indicator from CLD. The question underlying the CLD variable is fairly all-encompassing, whereas the V-Dem variables are more specific and refer to different aspects of media freedom and to the right to openly discuss political issues and express political opinions outside the mass media. Two of them distinguish between freedom of expression for men and for women.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

2.2.1

Print/ broadcast censorship effort

 

Expert Survey: Does the government directly or indirectly attempt to censor the print or broadcast media?

V-Dem

2.2.2

Harassment of journalists

 

Expert Survey: Are individual journalists harassed; that is, threatened with libel, arrested, imprisoned, beaten or killed, by governmental or powerful non-governmental actors while engaged in legitimate journalistic activities?

V-Dem

2.2.3

Media

self-censorship

 

Expert Survey: Is there self-censorship among journalists when reporting on issues that the government considers politically sensitive?

V-Dem

2.2.4

Freedom of discussion for women

 

Expert Survey: Are women able to openly discuss political issues in private homes and in public spaces?

V-Dem

2.2.5

Freedom of discussion for men

 

Expert Survey: Are men able to openly discuss political issues in private homes and in public spaces?

V-Dem

2.2.6

Freedom of academic and cultural expression

Expert Survey: Is there academic freedom and freedom of cultural expression related to political issues?

V-Dem

2.2.7

Freedom of opinion and expression

Standards Based Coding: The extent to which individual citizens, groups and the media have freedom of opinion and expression, that is, the right of the citizens, groups and press to hold views freely and to seek, obtain and pass on information on political issues as broadly understood without being subject to actual limitations or restrictions.

CLD

 

 

2.2.B. Freedom of Association and Assembly

The Freedom of Association and Assembly subcomponent denotes the extent that political and civil rights groups can freely organize.

Two indicators from V-Dem and one from CLD are used to measure Freedom of Association and Assembly. All of them refer directly to freedom of association for political and civil groups. The indicator offered by CLD covers freedom of assembly as well as freedom of association, where association refers to both civil society organizations and political parties. Due to its broad focus, it fits better here than under the political party freedom subattribute, which is already captured by many other indicators.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

2.2.8

CSO entry and exit

Expert Survey: To what extent does the government achieve control over entry and exit by civil society organizations into public life?

V-Dem

2.2.9

CSO repression

Expert Survey: Does the government attempt to repress civil society organizations?

V-Dem

2.2.10

Freedom of assembly and association

Standards Based Coding: The extent to which individuals and groups have freedom of assembly and association, that is, the right of citizens to gather freely and carry out peaceful demonstrations as well as to join, form and participate with other persons in political parties, cultural organizations, trade unions or the like of their choice without being subject to limitations or restrictions.

CLD

 

 

2.2.C Freedom of Religion

The Freedom of Religion subcomponent denotes the extent that individuals and groups can freely practice religion.

For the Religious Freedom subcomponent, V-Dem offers two general indicators on religious freedom based on expert surveys. To these were added a similarly broad in-house coded variable from CLD.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

2.2.11

Freedom of

religion

Expert Survey: Is there freedom of religion?

V-Dem

2.2.12

Religious organization repression

Expert Survey: Does the government attempt to repress religious organizations?

V-Dem

2.2.13

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

Standards Based Coding: The extent to which individuals and groups have freedom of thought, conscience and religion, that is, the right of the citizens to have and change their religion or belief of choice; and alone or in community manifest their religion or belief in practice, worship, observance and teaching, in private or public, as well as to proselytize peacefully without being subject to limitations or restrictions.

CLD

 

 

2.2.D Freedom of Movement

The Freedom of Movement subcomponent denotes the extent that individuals and groups have freedom of foreign and domestic movement.

Freedom of movement is captured by a general, in-house coded indicator from CLD and three more specific, expert-coded indicators from V-Dem that distinguish between foreign and domestic movement, and provide assessments of the latter feature for both men and women

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

2.2.14

Freedom of foreign

movement

Expert Survey: Is there freedom of foreign travel and emigration?

V-Dem

 

2.2.15

Freedom of domestic movement for women

Expert Survey: Do women enjoy freedom of movement within the country?

V-Dem

 

2.2.16

Freedom of domestic movement for men

Expert Survey: Do men enjoy freedom of movement within the country?

V-Dem

 

2.2.17

Freedom of movement and residence

Standards Based Coding: The extent to which individuals and groups have freedom of movement and residence, that is, the right of citizens to settle and travel in their country as well as to leave and return to their country of their own volition without being subject to limitations or restrictions.

CLD

 

 

2.2.E. Personal Integrity and Security

The Personal Integrity and Security subcomponent denotes the extent personal integrity rights respected.

To operationalize this subcomponent, five indicators of personal integrity rights were used to capture different types of violations, such as forced labour, torture and political and extra-judicial disappearances and killings. These indicators come from V-Dem and Fariss. In order to capture personal security more broadly, a general indicator on political violence from ICRG is also included. It pertains to different types of conflict and violence and distinguishes between various levels.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

2.2.18

Freedom from forced labour for women

Expert Survey: Are adult women free from servitude and other kinds of forced labour?

V-Dem

2.2.19

Freedom from forced labour for men

Expert Survey: Are adult men free from servitude and other kinds of forced labour?

V-Dem

2.2.20

Freedom from torture

Expert Survey: Is there freedom from torture?

V-Dem

2.2.21

Freedom from political killings

Expert Survey: Is there freedom from political killings?

V-Dem

2.2.22

Human rights protection scores

What is the level of political violence and terror?

Gibney et al.

2.2.23

Internal conflict

Expert Survey: Is there political violence in the country? The rating assigned is the sum of three subcomponents: civil war/coup threat, terrorism/political violence and civil disorder

ICRG

 

2.3 Social Rights and Equality

This subattribute denotes the extent to which basic welfare (social security, health and education) and political and social equality between social groups and genders have been realized.

For the Social Rights and Equality subattribute three subcomponents have been constructed. The construction of these subcomponent indices enables data users to carry out more focused and disaggregated analyses using measures that have stronger conceptual coherence than highly aggregated indices. Moreover, some of these subcomponent indices help capture some of the issues emphasized in the work of International IDEA in a clearer and more specific way. The so-called cross-cutting themes are gender, diversity and conflict sensitivity.

2.3.A Social Group Equality

This subcomponent measures the extent to which there is social group and class equality in regards to political power and civil liberties.

Five V-Dem expert-coded indicators that reflect social equality are used to measure this subcomponent. Four of the underlying questions ask about social class and identity group inequalities with regard to civil liberties and political power distribution, the fifth about the representation of disadvantaged social groups.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

2.3.1

Social class equality in respect for civil liberties

Expert Survey: Do poor people enjoy the same level of civil liberties as rich people do?

V-Dem

2.3.2

Social group equality in respect for civil liberties

Expert Survey: Do all social groups, as distinguished by language, ethnicity, religion, race, region or caste, enjoy the same level of civil liberties, or are some groups generally in a more favourable position?

V-Dem

2.3.3

Power distributed by socio-economic position

 

Expert Survey: Is political power distributed according to socio-economic position?

V-Dem

2.3.4

Power distributed by social group

 

Expert Survey: Is political power distributed according to social groups?

V-Dem

2.3.5

Representation of disadvantaged social groups

Expert Survey: Considering all disadvantaged social groups in the country, how well represented are these groups, as a whole, in the national legislature?

V-Dem

 

 

2.3.B Basic Welfare

This subcomponent measures the extent to which citizens basic welfare (social security, health and education) have been realized.

This subcomponent is measured using a number of standard observable human development indicators: infant mortality rate (UN), life expectancy (UN), supply of kilocalories per person per day (FAO), literacy rate (UNESCO) and average years of schooling (GHDx). The data on literacy rates contained a lot of missing values, so linear interpolation between observed data points was used to increase the coverage. The project generally refrained from using data sets with significant amounts of missing values. In the few cases where linear interpolation was used to fill some of the gaps, there were good theoretical and empirical reasons to expect them to be trended and not to fluctuate a great deal. Interpolation means that new data. In addition, two expert-based indicators from V-Dem were included to assess whether everyone in a given society has access to basic education and health care. All of these reflect the extent to which the basic needs of the population are being met.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

2.3.6

Infant mortality rate

Observational Data

UN Statistics

2.3.7

Life expectancy

Observational Data

UN Statistics

2.3.8

Kilocalories per person per day

Observational Data

FAO

2.3.9

Literacy

Observational Data

UNESCO

2.3.10

Mean years of schooling

Observational Data

GHDx

2.3.11

Educational equality

 

Expert Survey: To what extent is high quality basic education guaranteed to all, sufficient to enable them to exercise their basic rights as adult citizens?

V-Dem

2.3.12

Health equality

 

Expert Survey: To what extent is high quality basic health care guaranteed to all, sufficient to enable them to exercise their basic political rights as adult citizens?

V-Dem

 

2.2.C Gender Equality

The Gender Equality subcomponent denotes the extent political equality between genders has been realized.

Two expert-coded indicators from V-Dem, on power distribution by gender and female participation in civil society organizations, and three observational indicators, on the ratio of female to male mean years of schooling (GHDx), the proportion of lower chamber legislators who are female (V-Dem) and the percentage of women in cabinets (V-Dem), were used to operationalize gender equality. As the latter two indicators had a large number of missing values, linear interpolation between observed data points was used to fill some of the gaps. It is important to note that this measurement does not capture gender equality outside of the political realm and that a score of 1 does not mean total gender equality, but rather the highest observation of gender quality in our sample. 

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

2.3.13

Power distributed by gender

(v2pepwrgen)

Expert Survey: Is political power distributed according to gender?

V-Dem

2.3.14

CSO women’s participation

(v2csgender)

Expert Survey: Are women prevented from participating in civil society organizations?

V-Dem

2.3.15

Female vs. male mean years of schooling

Observational Data

GHDx

2.3.16

Lower chamber female legislators

(v2lgfemleg)

Observational Data

V-Dem

 

2.3.17

Election women in the cabinet (v2elwomcab)

Observational Data

IPU

 

3. Checks on Government

The Checks on Government attribute measures effective control of executive power. The responsiveness of representatives to citizens is not sufficient for effective popular control over government, rather it needs to be supplemented through various institutions, such as parliament, the courts and other watchdog agencies. This attribute is related to the liberal-democratic tradition in political theory.

3.1 Effective Parliament

The Effective Parliament subattribute denotes the extent to which the legislature is capable of overseeing the executive.

Three indicators from the V-Dem experts’ survey tap fairly directly into the effectiveness of parliament by capturing the presence of opposition parties and whether the legislature carries out investigations and questioning of officials. Another V-Dem indicator on executive oversight and the executive constraints indicator from Polity have a broader focus but are also included as they capture relevant aspects of institutional Checks on Government not covered by Judicial Independence and Media Integrity.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

3.1.1

Legislature questions officials in practice

 

Expert Survey: In practice, does the legislature routinely question executive branch officials?

V-Dem

3.1.2.

Executive oversight

Expert Survey: If executive branch officials were engaged in unconstitutional, illegal or unethical activity, how likely is it that a body other than the legislature, such as a comptroller general, general prosecutor or ombudsman, would question or investigate them and issue an unfavourable decision or report?

V-Dem

3.1.3

Legislature investigates in practice

Expert Survey: If the executive were engaged in unconstitutional, illegal or unethical activity, how likely is it that a legislative body (perhaps a whole chamber, perhaps a committee, whether aligned with government or opposition) would conduct an investigation that would result in a decision or report that is unfavourable to the executive?

V-Dem

3.1.4

Legislature opposition parties

Expert Survey: Are opposition parties (those not in the ruling party or coalition) able to exercise oversight and investigatory functions against the wishes of the governing party or coalition?

V-Dem

3.1.5

Executive constraints

Standards Based Coding: The extent of institutionalized constraints on the decision-making powers of chief executives, whether individuals or collectivities.

Polity

 

3.2 Judicial Independence

The Judicial Independence subattribute denotes the extent to which the courts are not subject to undue influence from the other branches of government, especially the executive.

Since our framework places Judicial Independence under the attribute concerning Checks on Government, it was important to supplement the three Judicial Independence indicators from V-Dem with two V-Dem indicators on government compliance with the courts. In addition, the ICRG law and order indicator, which captures judicial independence and law abidance, is included. Other

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

3.2.1

High Court independence

Expert Survey: When the High Court in the judicial system is ruling in cases that are salient to the government, how often would you say that it makes decisions that merely reflect government wishes regardless of its sincere view of the legal record?

V-Dem

3.2.2

Lower court independence

Expert Survey: When judges not on the High Court are ruling in cases that are salient to the government, how often would you say that their decisions merely reflect government wishes regardless of their sincere view of the legal record?

V-Dem

3.2.3

Compliance with High Court

Expert Survey: How often would you say the government complies with important decisions of the High Court with which it disagrees?

V-Dem

3.2.4

Compliance with judiciary

Expert Survey: How often would you say the government complies with important decisions by other courts with which it disagrees?

V-Dem

3.2.5

Law and Order

Standards Based Coding: To what extent is the legal system strong and impartial and to what degree is there popular observance of the law?

ICRG

 

3.3 Media Integrity

The Media Integrity subattribute denotes the extent to which the media landscape offers diverse and critical coverage of political issues.

Media integrity and freedom of expression are related. Nonetheless, the media can do a poor job controlling the government even in a situation of media freedom if for other reasons than government repression they are very one-sided, uncritical, superficial or corrupt. V-Dem offers indicators that reflect these additional circumstances as they reflect whether various media are critical, offer different perspectives, are biased or are corrupt. The indicators included are based on expert surveys. In addition, the MFD in-house coded indicator is used. It evaluates whether the media are critical of the government and its officials.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

3.3.1

Print/broadcast media critical

Expert Survey: Of the major print and broadcast media outlets, how many routinely criticize the government?

V-Dem

3.3.2

Print/broadcast media perspectives

Expert Survey: Do the major print and broadcast media represent a wide range of political perspectives?

V-Dem

3.3.3

Media bias

Expert Survey: Is there media bias against opposition parties or candidates?

V-Dem

3.3.4

Media corrupt

Expert Survey: Do journalists, publishers or broadcasters accept payments in exchange for altering news coverage?

V-Dem

3.3.5

Media freedom

Standards Based Coding: Is criticism of government and government officials a common and normal part of the political dialogue in the mediated public sphere?

Media Freedom Data

 

4. Impartial Administration

The Impartial Administration attribute measures fair and predictable public administration. Since impartial administration to a large extent overlaps with the concept of the rule of law, this attribute is also rooted in the tradition that emphasizes liberal aspects of democracy.

4.1 Absence of Corruption

This subattribute denotes the extent to which the executive, and public administration more broadly, does not abuse office for personal gain.

Although many data sets now provide indicators on corruption, only a few go back more than one or two decades or distinguish between different types of corruption. Four V-Dem indicators explicitly refer to corruption in the government as broadly understood; that is, the executive and public administration more generally but excluding the courts and parliament. These are used along with another expert-coded but broader indicator on government corruption from the ICRG data set.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

4.1.1

Public sector corrupt exchanges

Expert Survey: How routinely do public sector employees grant favours in exchange for bribes, kickbacks or other material inducements?

V-Dem

4.1.2

Public sector theft

Expert Survey: How often do public sector employees steal, embezzle or misappropriate public funds or other state resources for personal or family use?

V-Dem

4.1.3

Executive embezzlement and theft

Expert Survey: How often do members of the executive (the head of state, head of government and cabinet ministers) or their agents steal, embezzle or misappropriate public funds or other state resources for personal or family use?

V-Dem

4.1.4

Executive bribery and corrupt exchanges

 

Expert Survey: How routinely do members of the executive (the head of state, the head of government and cabinet ministers) or their agents grant favours in exchange for bribes, kickbacks or other material inducements?

V-Dem

4.1.5

Corruption

Expert Survey: How widespread is actual or potential corruption in the form of excessive patronage, nepotism, job reservations, ‘favour-for-favours’, secret party funding and suspiciously close ties between politics and business?

ICRG

 

4.2 Predictable Enforcement

The Predictable Enforcement subattribute denotes the extent to which the executive and public officials enforce laws in a predictable manner.

To measure the related feature of predictable enforcement, three expert-coded V-Dem indicators on the executive’s respect for constitutional provisions, the presence of transparent laws with predictable enforcement, and rule-abiding in the public sector are used. They stand out as the most relevant, together with an indicator from ICRG (also expert-coded), which assesses the strength and expertise of the bureaucracy.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

4.2.1

Executive respects constitution

Expert Survey: Do members of the executive (the head of state, the head of government and cabinet ministers) respect the constitution?

V-Dem

4.2.2

Transparent laws with predictable enforcement

Expert Survey: Are the laws of the land clear, well-publicized, coherent (consistent with each other), relatively stable from year to year and enforced in a predictable manner?

V-Dem

4.2.3

Rigorous and impartial public administration

Expert Survey: Are public officials rigorous and impartial in the performance of their duties?

V-Dem

4.2.4

Bureaucratic quality

Expert Survey: Bureaucracy has the strength and expertise to govern without drastic changes in policy or interruptions in government services.

ICRG

 

5. Participatory Engagement

Democratic institutions tend to be hollow if not filled by active citizens in connection with and between different kinds of elections. In other words, politically involved citizens are considered an important part of democracy, the more citizens are allowed to participate at all levels of government and make actual use of these opportunities, through participation in dynamic civil society organizations, national and subnational elections and referendums, the more popular control and responsiveness can be achieved.

While there is relatively good theoretical guidance and a large degree of empirical unidimensionality to rely on when aggregating subattribute scores for the other attributes, the relationship between the subattributes and the overarching attribute is less evident for participatory engagement. Furthermore, the subattribute indices linked to this attribute are not highly correlated. This may reflect the fact that they capture rather distinct phenomena, although they are all conceptually related by being expressions of popular participation. Hence, aggregation through reflective models does not seem to be a plausible solution.

5.1 Civil Society Participation

The Civil Society Participation subattribute denotes the extent to which organized, voluntary, self-generating and autonomous social life is dense and vibrant.

The measurement of Civil Society Participation relies on three V-Dem indicators based expert surveys. They consider the extent to which the population is engaged in civil society activities. Unfortunately, potentially relevant indicators based on mass surveys, asking people about their actual involvement in civic activism, are hard to combine across surveys, which, moreover, have rather limited coverage in terms of years and countries.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

5.1.1

CSO participatory environment

Expert Survey: Are people involved in civil society organizations (CSOs)?

V-Dem

5.1.2

Engaged society

Expert Survey: When important policy changes are being considered, how wide and how independent are public deliberations?

V-Dem

5.1.3

CSO consultation

Expert Survey: Are major civil society organizations (CSOs) routinely consulted by policymakers on policies relevant to their members? 

V-Dem

 

 

5.2 Electoral Participation

The Electoral Participation subattribute denotes the extent to which citizens vote in national legislative and (if applicable) executive elections.

The turnout of the voting age population in national elections is the single indicator used to capture electoral participation. This observational indicator from V-Dem, which is to a large extent based on initial data collection by International IDEA, captures the concept of interest in a direct way and one indicator is therefore sufficient to measure this subattribute—especially given that there are hardly any feasible alternatives.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

5.2.1

Election VAP turnout

Observational Data

V-Dem

 

5.3 Direct Democracy

The Direct Democracy subattribute denotes the extent to which citizens can participate in direct popular decision-making.

For Direct Democracy, V-Dem offers the only comprehensive data set in the form of the direct democracy index developed by David Altman (2016). It is based on observable variables on the formal opportunities for and actual use of different instruments of direct democracy at the national level. However, it seems pertinent to take into account whether mechanisms of direct democracy are available and used in a context where elections are generally respected as the main source of political power. To do so, the electoral indicator from BRRD is also used here.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

5.3.1

Direct popular vote index

 

Composite Measure: Measure based on 12 observable variables from V-Dem. It results from the combination of scores for each type of popular vote (popular initiatives, referendums, plebiscites and obligatory referendums). The measure captures how easy it is to initiate and approve each type of popular vote, and how consequential that vote is if approved. Ease of initiation is measured by the existence of a direct democratic process, the number of signatures needed, and time limits to collect signatures. Ease of approval is measured by quorums pertaining to participation, approval, supermajority and district majority. Consequences are measured by the legal status of the decision made by citizens (binding or consultative) and the frequency with which direct popular votes have been used and approved in the past.

V-Dem

5.3.2

Electoral

Standards Based Coding: Does a country have no regular elections, elections in an effectively one-party state, elections with opposition parties but without an actual chance of government change, or full democracy?

Bjørnskov and Rode

 

5.4 Local Democracy

The Subnational Elections subattribute denotes the extent to which citizens can participate in free elections for influential local governments.

V-Dem is also the only provider of a comprehensive, cross-national data set on subnational elections. The local government index indicates whether the local government is elected and whether it is empowered in relation to the central government, while another indicator assesses the freedom and fairness of subnational elections.

No.

Indicator

Description / question

Dataset

5.4.1

Local government index

Composite Measure: Are there elected local governments, and if so to what extent can they operate without interference from unelected bodies at the local level?

V-Dem

5.4.2

Subnational elections free and fair

 

Expert Surveys: Taking all aspects of the pre-election period, election day and the post-election process into account, would you consider subnational elections (regional and local, as previously identified) to be free and fair on average?

V-Dem