This Handbook, originally published in 2002 and now out of print, is a robust guide to assessing the quality of democracy and human rights. It introduces an easy-to-use and universal methodology for assessing the condition of democracy in any country, or its progress in democratization. A revised and updated edition, Assessing the Quality of Democracy: A Practical Guide, was published in 2008 as part of International IDEA's State of Democracy (SoD) Assessment Framework.

Democracy assessments provide a means to measure systematically the full range of values, institutions and issues relating to modern democracy in a way that is sensitive to the underlying principles of democracy and to differences between democracies.

The methodology is, therefore, both universal in application and capable of responding to particular aspects of any nation's democratic arrangements. Its animating principle is that only citizens of a nation are qualified to assess the quality of their own democratic arrangements. Thus, it provides a self-help guide, which gives academics, lawyers, political practitioners, journalists and interested citizens the tools to assess the state of their democracy.

The Handbook is, above all, a practical working document that draws on the actual experience of assessing democracy in different countries, comparative knowledge and research, and democratic principles and practice. It provides a step-by-step guide to the purposes and methods of democracy assessment; who to involve; how to use the research tools; how to validate the findings; what standards of practice to adopt; and how to present and publicize a finished assessment.

It also contains extracts from completed assessments, guidance on the use of qualitative and quantitative data, examples of codes of democratic practice and international and regional standards, and a vast list of accessible data sources.


Publication date
01 March 2002
David Beetham, Sarah Bracking, Iain Kearton, Stuart Weir
Number of pages
Kluwer Law International (distributor)
9-789041-117274 (Print)



Introduction: The goals of democracy assessment 

Part 1: Explaining the Method

Explaining the Assessment Framework
Charting the Process of Assessment
Strategies for Making Democracy Assessments Public

Part 2: Democracy Assessment in Practice

Examples of Democracy Assessments
Assessing Accountability: the Use of Qualitative Tables
Measuring Democratic Progress: the Use of Quantitative Information
Codes of Good Practice

Part 3: The Assessment Framework

Full List of Search Questions
The assessment framework: Four columns
Preliminary Data

Appendix: Democracy Assessment Questionnaire 

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International IDEA Handbook on Democracy Assessment

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