The Global State of Democracy Indices (GSoD Indices) measure democratic trends at the country, regional and global levels across a broad range of different attributes of democracy in the period 1975–2022. They do not provide a single index of democracy.

They include data for 174 countries across the globe, and are based on 157 individual 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 1975–2022. All scoring runs from 0 to 1, with 0 representing the lowest achievement in the whole sample and 1 the highest.

For more information and to download the data, please see the GSoD Indices Methodology, Technical guide and Codebook in the Data set and Resources section of the GSoD platform. 

Overview of indices

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 four top-level indices (attributes) that are constructed from 17 second-level indices (subattributes). Two of the subattributes are constructed from component indices at a lower level of aggregation.

  • Representation
    • Credible Elections
    • Inclusive Suffrage
    • Free Political Parties
    • Elected Government
    • Effective Parliament
    • Local Democracy
  • Rights
    • Access to Justice
    • Civil Liberties
      • Freedom of Expression
      • Freedom of the Press
      • Freedom of Association and Assembly
      • Freedom of Religion
      • Freedom of Movement
    • Basic Welfare
    • Political Equality
      • Social Group Equality
      • Gender Equality
  • Rule of Law
    • Judicial Independence
    • Personal Integrity and Security
    • Predictable Enforcement
    • Absence of Corruption
  • Participation
    • Civil Society
    • Civic Engagement
    • Electoral Participation

Summary of attributes

1. Representation

Of the four attributes of democracy, arguably the most essential and least contested is Representation. It emphasizes contested and inclusive popular elections for legislative and (directly or indirectly elected) executive office. Most of the features associated with representation are covered by the concepts of electoral integrity, free and fair elections and electoral democracy.

For this attribute, the framework distinguishes between six subattributes:
1.1. Credible Elections 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 and fraudulent counting.
1.2. Inclusive Suffrage denotes the extent to which adult citizens have equal and universal passive and active voting rights.
1.3. Free Political Parties denotes the extent to which political parties are free to form and campaign for political office.
1.4. Elected Government denotes the extent to which national, representative government offices are filled through elections.
1.5. Effective Parliament denotes the extent to which the legislature is capable of overseeing the executive.
1.6. Local Democracy denotes the extent to which citizens can participate in free elections for influential local governments.

2. Rights

The 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.

 For this attribute, the framework distinguishes between four subattributes:
2.1. Access to Justice 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).
2.2. Civil Liberties denotes the extent to which civil rights and liberties are respected (citizens enjoy the freedoms of expression, the press, association and assembly, religion, and movement).
2.3. Basic Welfare denotes the extent to which there is access to fundamental resources and social services (citizens enjoy nutrition, social security, healthcare, and education) .
2.4. Political Equality denotes the extent to which political equality between social groups and genders have been realized (citizens are not subjected to discrimination and exclusion due to their gender or social identity).

3. Rule of Law

Beyond regular elections, the exercise of political power needs to be subject to defined limits and continuous scrutiny and people should be able to live a secure life without the risk of political violence. If there is not integrity in the public administration and the  judiciary is not independent,  executive power is more prone to be abused for private gain and to bias in political decision-making and implementation. Moreover, the government and public administration more generally ought to implement official public policies in an impartial and predictable manner. If the implementation is unfair and unpredictable, large discrepancies between official laws and policies, on the one hand, and practices, on the other, undermine the fulfilment of democratic principles. 
In other words, vertical accountability through elections should be supplemented by the Rule of Law.

For this attribute, the framework distinguishes between four subattributes:
3.1. Judicial Independence denotes the extent to which the courts are not subject to undue influence, especially from the executive.3.2. Absence of Corruption denotes the extent to which the executive, and public administration more broadly, does not abuse office for personal gain.
3.2. Absence of Corruption denotes the extent to which the executive, and public administration more broadly, does not abuse office for personal gain.
3.3. Predictable Enforcement denotes the extent to which the executive and public officials enforce laws in a predictable manner.
3.4. Personal Integrity and Security denotes the extent to which bodily integrity is respected and people are free from state and non-state political violence.

4. Participation

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 and elections, the more popular control and responsiveness can be achieved. Whether popular participation also increases political equality depends on how representative of the whole population the engaged citizens are. Nonetheless, everything else being equal, high levels of different forms of popular participation will tend to reflect more inclusive and representative involvement than very low levels of popular participation. Without any popular involvement, democratic institutions become empty and meaningless shells, whereas with active participation democracy is vibrant.

For this attribute, the framework distinguishes between three subattributes:
4.1. Civil Society denotes the extent to which organized, voluntary, self-generating and autonomous social life is institutionally possible.
4.2. Civic Engagement denotes the extent to which people actively engage in civil society organizations and trade unions.
4.3. Electoral Participation denotes the extent to which citizens vote in national legislative and (if applicable) executive elections.