Democracy Ranking Organizations

  1. Center for Systemic Peace
  2. Democracy Index
  3. Freedom House
  4. Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem)

Center for Systemic Peace

The Center continually monitors political behavior in each of the world’s major states, that is, all those with current populations greater than 500,000 (167 countries in 2014) and reports on emerging issues and persisting conditions related to the problems of political violence and “state failure.”

  • Polity Project
  • Polity 5
  • INSCR Data Page
  • Polity 5 Regime Narratives 2018
  • Polity 5 Dataset User Manual
    • Democracy Index (DEMOC)
      • DEMOC Institutionalized Democracy: Democracy is conceived as three essential, interdependent elements.
        • One is the presence of institutions and procedures through which citizens can express effective preferences about alternative policies and leaders.
        • Second is the existence of institutionalized constraints on the exercise of power by the executive.
        • Third is the guarantee of civil liberties to all citizens in their daily lives and in acts of political participation.
      • The Democracy index is an additive eleven-point scale (0-10).
    • Combined Polity Score (POLITY)
      • The POLITY score is computed by subtracting the AUTOC score from the DEMOC score; the resulting unified polity scale ranges from +10 (strongly democratic) to -10 (strongly autocratic).
  • From Polity 5 Annual Time Series
    • United States Democracy and Polity Ratings

Democracy Index

The Democracy Index is produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the research and analysis division of The Economist Group, the sister company to The Economist newspaper

Democracy Index 2022: Frontline democracy and the battle for Ukraine

  • Democracy Index
    • The DI goes from 0 to 10.
      • Full democracies: score > 8
      • Flawed democracies: score > 6 and ≤ 8
        • US is 7.85
      • Hybrid regimes: score > 4, and ≤ 6
      • Authoritarian regimes: score ≤ 4
  • Four Kinds of Regimes
    • Full democracies
      • Countries in which not only basic political freedoms and civil liberties are respected, but which also tend to be underpinned by a political culture conducive to the flourishing of democracy. The functioning of government is satisfactory. Media are independent and diverse. There is an effective system of checks and balances. The judiciary is independent and judicial decisions are enforced. There are only limited problems in the functioning of democracies.
    • Flawed democracies:
      • These countries also have free and fair elections and, even if there are problems (such as infringements on media freedom), basic civil liberties are respected. However, there are significant weaknesses in other aspects of democracy, including problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.
    • Hybrid regimes:
      • Elections have substantial irregularities that often prevent them from being both free and fair. Government pressure on opposition parties and candidates may be common. Serious weaknesses are more prevalent than in flawed democracies—in political culture, functioning of government and political participation. Corruption tends to be widespread and the rule of law is weak. Civil society is weak. Typically, there is harassment of and pressure on journalists, and the judiciary is not independent.
    • Authoritarian regimes:
      • In these states, state political pluralism is absent or heavily circumscribed. Many countries in this category are outright dictatorships. Some formal institutions of democracy may exist, but these have little substance. Elections, if they do occur, are not free and fair. There is disregard for abuses and infringements of civil liberties. Media are typically state-owned or controlled by groups connected to the ruling regime. There is repression of criticism of the government and pervasive censorship. There is no independent judiciary.
    • Interesting Stuff
      • Table 1. Democracy Index 2022, by regime type, p3
      • Chart: Democracy Index 2022, global map by regime type, p5
      • Chart: Top 10 upgrades and downgrades, p6
      • Table 2. Democracy Index 2022, p7-11
      • Table 3. Democracy Index 2006-22 , p14-18
      • Table 4. Democracy across the regions, p29
      • Table 5. Democracy Index 2006-22 by region, p32
      • Table 6. North America 2022, p32
      • Chart: US & Canada Combine, p33

Earlier report: Democracy Index 2020: In sickness and in health?

Freedom House

Founded in 1941, Freedom House was the first American organization to champion the advancement of freedom globally. Working as an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world, Freedom House is notable for its nonpartisan character and commitment to maintaining support for its mission among members of both major US political parties.

Freedom in the World 2023

  • Freedom Scores go from 0 to 100
    • 0 to 4 points for each of 10 political rights indicators
    • 0 to 4 points for each of 15 civil liberties indicators
  • Regime Status
    • Free
    • Partly Free
    • Not Free
  • An electoral democracy is a regime that gets:
    • a score of 7 or better in the Electoral Process subcategory
    • an overall political rights score of 20 or better,
    • an overall civil liberties score of 30 or better.
  • 17 years of democratic decline, p3
  • Largest one-year gains and declines in 2022, p9
  • Largest 10-year declines, p12
  • To stifle democracy, silence free speech, p15
  • The ebb and flow of democratization, p16
  • Still waiting for a chance at freedom, p18
  • Putting points on the board for democracy, p19
  • Global: status by population, p30

Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem)

  • The V-Dem Institute, founded in 2014 and led by Professor Staffan I. Lindberg, is an independent research institute and the Headquarters of the V-Dem project. The institute is based at the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
  • Funders include the National Science Foundation, European Research Council, Kellogg Institute at the University of Notre Dame, and the World Bank.

Democracy Report 2023: Defiance in the Face of Autocratization

  • V-Dem classifies regimes into four categories (V-Dem Democracy Report 2022, Page 13)
    • Liberal Democracy, characterized by;
      • Free and fair elections, universal suffrage, freedom of expression and association.
      • Individual rights, rule of law, and constraints on the executive by the legislature and high courts
      • Examples: UK, USA, Japan, Uruguay, France, Israel
    • Electoral Democracy, characterized by:
      • Free and fair elections, universal suffrage, freedom of expression and association.
      • Lack of individual rights, rule of law, and constraints on the executive by the legislature and high courts
      • Examples: Austria, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico
    • Electoral Autocracy, characterized by:
      • Institutions emulating democracy but falling substantially below the threshold for democracy in terms of authenticity or quality.
      • Examples: Egypt, Hungary, India, Iraq, Philippines, Russia
    • Closed Autocracy, characterized by:
      • An individual or group exercising power largely unconstrained by the people. 
      • Examples: China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia
  • My reading of V-Dem’s regimes:
    • Electoral Democracy
    • Liberal Democracy
      • Electoral Democracy Plus:
        • Rights
          • protect individuals and minorities against the tyranny of the state and the tyranny of the majority
        • Safeguards against abuse of power, especially by the executive
          • strong rule of law
          • constitutionally protected civil liberties
          • checks and balances by an independent judiciary and strong parliament that are able to hold the executive to account and limit its powers.
    • Electoral Autocracy
      • Fake Democracy
    • Closed Autocracy
      • Doesn’t even try to pretend to be democratic
  • Executive Summary, p6
  • Figure 2. state of liberal democracy (ldi), 2022, p9
  • Figure 4. regime types by number of countries and share of population, 1972–2022, p11
  • Figure 1. regimes and regime change, p12
  • Figure 5. regional shares of population by regime type, p13
  • Figure 7. top-20 declining indicators, 2012–2022, p16
  • Figure 8. countries democratizing vs. autocratizing, 2012-2022, p19
  • Democratizers and Autocratizers, p19
  • Figure 10. democratizers vs. autocratizers, 2012-2022, p20
    • USA is an autocratizer
  • fFigure 12. top 10 autocratizing countries (10-years vs. 3-years), p23
  • Figure 15. change in government’s dissemination of false information, and political polarization by countries, 2012–2022, p26
    • USA government disinformation increasing (0.2, 1)
    • USA becoming more polarized (2.5, 3.5)
  • Figure 16. top 10 democratizing countries (10-years and 3-years), p27
  • Figure 19: share of world gdp, by regime type 1992–2022, p33
  • Figure 1. academic freedom index, changes 2012–2022, p38
  • Table 1: regimes of the world, 2012–2022, p39
  • Table 2. history of regimes of the world by country-year, 1972–2022, p40
  • Figure 1. countries by score on v-dem’s liberal democracy index (ldi), 2012 compared to 2022, p42
  • Table 3. country scores for the liberal democracy index (ldi) and all components indices, 2022, p44
    • USA LDI Rank = 23
  • V-Dem Indexes
    • The Liberal Democracy Index, p50
      • The V-Dem Liberal Democracy Index (LDI) captures both liberal and electoral aspects of democracy based on the 71 indicators included in the Liberal Component Index (LCI) and the Electoral Democracy Index (EDI).
    • The Electoral Democracy Index, p51
      • V-Dem is the first systematic effort to measure the de facto existence of all the institutions in Robert Dahl’s famous articulation of “polyarchy” as electoral democracy. The V-Dem Electoral Democracy Index (EDI) captures the extent to which regimes have:
        • clean, free and fair elections
        • actual freedom of expression
        • alternative sources of information and association
        • male and female suffrage
        • government policy vested in elected political officials.
      • View Robert Dahl’s Institutions of Representative Democracy
    • The Liberal Component Index, p52
      • In V-Dem’s conceptual scheme the liberal principle of democracy embodies the importance of protecting individual and minority rights against both the tyranny of the state and the tyranny of the majority
      • It also captures the “horizontal” methods of accountability between more or less equally standing institutions that ensure the effective checks and balances between institutions and in particular limit the exercise of executive power. This is achieved by strong rule of law and constitutionally protected civil liberties, independent judiciary and strong parliament that are able to hold the executive to account and limit its powers.
    • The Egalitarian Component Index, p53
      • The egalitarian principle of democracy measures to what extent all social groups enjoy equal capabilities to participate in the political arena. It relies on the idea that democracy is a system of rule “by the people” where citizens participate in various ways, such as making informed voting decisions, expressing opinions, demonstrating, running for office or influencing policy-making in other ways. The egalitarian principle of democracy is fundamentally related to political participation, as systematic inequalities in the rights and resources of citizens of specific social groups limit capabilities to participate in the political and governing processes. Therefore, a more equal distribution of resources across groups results in political equality and hence democracy.
    • The Participatory Component Index, p54
      • The participatory principle of democracy emphasizes active participation by citizens in all political processes, electoral and non-electoral. This principle prefers direct rule by citizens as practicable. The V-Dem Participatory Component Index (PCI) takes into account four important aspects of citizen participation:
        • civil society organizations,
        • mechanisms of direct democracy
        • participation and representation through local and regional governments.
      • Four different V-Dem indices capture these aspects and are the basis for the PCI.
    • The Deliberative Component Index, p55
      • The V-Dem Deliberative Component Index (DCI) captures to what extent the deliberative principle of democracy is achieved. It assesses the process by which decisions are reached in a polity. A deliberative process is one in which public reasoning, focused on the common good, motivates political decisions – as contrasted with emotional appeals, solidarity attachments, parochial interests or coercion. According to this principle, democracy requires more than an aggregation of existing preferences. There should also be respectful dialogue at all levels – from preference formation to final decision – among informed and competent participants who are open to persuasion