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7. Election Participation: Is electoral participation unconstrained and extensive?
8. Election Administration: Is the administration of elections fair?
9. Election Results: Do results of an election indicate that a democratic process has occurred?
10. Leadership Turnover: Is there regular turnover in the top political leadership?
11. Civil Society: Is civil society dynamic, independent, and politically active?
12. Political Parties: Are political parties well institutionalized?
13. Subnational Democracy: How decentralized is political power and how democratic is politics at subnational levels?
Clarifications “Party” may refer to a longstanding coalition such as the CDU/CSU in Germany if that coalition functions in most respects like a single party.
The identity of the party may be obscured by name changes. (If the party/coalition changes names but retains key personnel and is still run by and for the same constituency then it should be considered the same organization.) “Executive” refers to the most powerful elective office in a country (if there is one)—usually a president or prime minister.
Wherever there is disparity between formal rules (constitutional or statutory) and actual practice, coding decisions should be based on the latter.
Unless otherwise specified, the geographic unit of analysis is the (sovereign or semi-sovereign) nation-state. Evidently, there is enormous heterogeneity within large nation-states, necessitating judgments about which level of coding corresponds most closely to the mean value within that unit. Where extreme heterogeneity exists vis-à-vis the variable of interest it may be important to include a companion variable that would indicate high within-country variance on that particular component. One thinks of contemporary Sri Lanka and Colombia—states where the quality of democracy is quite different across regions of the country.
Questions pertaining to elections may be disaggregated according to whether they refer to elections for the (a) lower house, (b) upper house, or (c) presidency. In some cases, (b) and/or (c) is nonexistent or inconsequential, in which case it should be ignored. If no election occurs in a given year, then many of these questions should be left unanswered (unless of course rules or norms pertaining to elections have changed in the interim). If more than one election occurs in a given year there will be two entries for that country in that year. (This complicates data APPENDIX C analysis, but it is essential to the purpose of the dataset, which is to provide primary-level data that can be used for further analysis.) At some point, coding responses must be added to this questionnaire.
Such responses may be dichotomous, multichotomous, or continuous, depending upon the question. However, we suggest that all original coding scales (where coding decisions are required) be comprised of no more than five categories. A larger number of options may create greater ambiguity. In any case, these response options should be as operational as possible. It should be clear what a “3” means with respect to the question at hand.
1. National Sovereignty General question: Is the nation sovereign?
Is the territory independent of foreign domination? (Note: We are not concerned here with pressures that all states are subject to as part of the international system.)
2. Civil Liberty General questions: Do citizens enjoy civil liberty in matters pertaining to politics?
Note: Civil liberties issues pertaining specifically to elections are covered in later sections.
Does the government directly or indirectly attempt to censor the major media (print, broadcast, Internet)? Indirect forms of censorship might include politically motivated awarding of broadcast frequencies, withdrawal of financial support, influence over printing facilities and distribution networks, selective distribution of advertising, onerous registration requirements, prohibitive tariffs, and bribery. (See recent index of Internet freedom developed by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University.) Of the major media outlets, how many routinely criticize the government?
Are individual journalists harassed—i.e., threatened with libel, arrested, imprisoned, beaten, or killed—by government or nongovernmental actors while engaged in legitimate journalistic activities?
Is there self-censorship among journalists when reporting on politically sensitive issues?
Are works of literature, art, music, and other forms of cultural expression censored or banned for political purposes?
Do citizens feel safe enough to speak freely about political subjects in their homes and in public spaces?
APPENDIX C Is it possible to form civic associations, including those with a critical view of government?
Is physical violence (e.g., torture) and/or arbitrary arrest targeted at presumed opponents of the government widespread?
Are certain groups systematically discriminated against by virtue of their race, ethnicity, language, caste, or culture to the point where it impairs their ability to participate in politics on an equal footing with other groups? (Note: This question pertains to citizens only [not noncitizens] and does not cover issues of disenfranchisement, which are included in a later section.) If so, how large (as a percentage of the total population) is this group(s)?
3. Popular Sovereignty General question: Are elected officials sovereign relative to nonelected elites?
Are there national-level elections (even if only pro forma)?
If yes, are the governments that result from these elections fully sovereign—in practice, not merely in constitutional form—vis-à-vis any nonelective bodies whose members are not chosen by, or removable by, elected authorities (e.g., a monarchy, the military, and the church)? Note that this does not preclude extensive delegation of authority to nonelective bodies such as central banks and other agencies. But it does presume that the members of these nonelective authorities are chosen by, and may be removed, in circumstances of extreme malfeasance, by elective authorities. This power of removal must be real, not merely formal. Thus, while constitutions generally grant power to civilian authorities to remove military rulers, it is understood that in some countries, during some periods, an action of this nature would not be tolerated. In most cases, it will be clear to those familiar with the countries in question when this sort of situation obtains, though there may be questions about the precise dates of transition (e.g., when Chilean political leaders regained control over the military after the Pinochet dictatorship).
4. Transparency General question: How transparent is the political system?
Note: this section pertains to the polity as a whole, while some other questions listed below pertain to particular sections of the polity (e.g., election administration).
Are government decisions made public in a timely fashion and otherwise made accessible to citizens?
Are decision-making processes open to public scrutiny, for example, through committee hearings?
5. Judicial Independence General question: How independent, clean, and empowered is the judiciary?
Is the judiciary independent of partisan-political pressures?
Is the judiciary noncorrupt?
Is the judiciary sufficiently empowered to enforce the laws of the land, including those pertaining to the ruling elite (or is its power so reduced that it cannot serve as a check on other branches of government)?
6. Checks on the Executive General question: Are there effective checks—other than elections—on the exercise of power by the executive?
Note: Questions pertaining to electoral accountability are addressed elsewhere.
Constitutionality Does the executive behave in a constitutional manner (i.e., according to written constitutional rules or well-established constitutional principles)?
Term limits If the executive is elected directly by the general electorate (or through an electoral college), are there term limits?
If so, what are they?
Are they respected (at this point in time)?
The legislature Is the executive able to control the legislature by undemocratic means (e.g., by manipulating legislative elections, by proroguing the legislature, by buying votes in the legislature)?
Is the executive able to make major policy decisions without legislative approval, i.e., without passing laws? Can the executive rule by fiat?
The judiciary Is the executive accountable to the judiciary—which is to say, is the judiciary prepared to enforce the constitution, even when in conflict with the executive?
7. Election Participation General question: Is electoral participation unconstrained and extensive?
Suffrage What percent of citizens (if any) are subject to de jure and de facto eligibility restrictions based on ascriptive characteristics other than age (e.g., race, ethnicity, religion)?
What percent of the population are excluded from suffrage by virtue of being permanent residents (noncitizens)?
APPENDIX C Turnout Note: This variable is meaningless in the absence of free and fair elections. Therefore, although data may be collected for all countries, it should be considered an aspect of democracy only where countries score above some minimal level on Election Administration.
What percent of the adult (as defined by the country’s laws) electorate turned out to vote?
Election Administration1 8.
General question: Is the administration of elections fair?
Election law At this time, are regularly scheduled elections—past and future—on course, as stipulated by election law or well-established precedent? (If the answer is no, the implication is that they have been suspended or postponed in violation of election law or well-established precedent.) Are there clear and explicit sets of rules for the conduct of elections and are the rules clearly disseminated (at the very least, to political elites in the opposition)?
Election commission Note: Election commission refers to whatever government bureau(s) is assigned responsibility for setting up and overseeing elections.
Is it unbiased and independent of partisan pressures or balanced in its representation of different partisans?
Does it have sufficient power and/or prestige to enforce its own provisions? (Are its decisions respected and carried out?) Registration Are electoral rolls updated regularly?
Do they accurately reflect who has registered? (If the election rolls are not made public, then the answer is assumed to be No.) Do names of those registered appear on the rolls at their local polling station (as they ought to)?
Integrity of the ote Are all viable political parties and candidates granted access to the ballot (without unduly burdensome qualification requirements)?
Are opposition candidates/parties subject to harassment (e.g., selective prosecution, intimidation)?
Is the election process manipulated through other means (e.g., changing age or citizenship laws to restrict opposition candidate’s access to the ballot, stalking horse candidates, snap elections scheduled without sufficient time for the opposition to organize)?
Are election choices secret (or are there violations)?
1 This section draws on Munck (2006).
0 APPENDIX C Is vote-buying (bribery) and/or intimidation of voters widespread?
Are other forms of vote fraud (e.g., ballot-stuffing, misreporting of votes) widespread?
What percent of polling stations did not open on time, experienced an interruption, ran out of voting materials, or experienced some other sort of irregularity?
What was the percentage of lost or spoiled ballots?
Media Do all parties and candidates have equal access to the media? Equal access is understood as (a) all candidates or parties for a particular office are treated equally (thus granting an advantage to small parties or minor candidates) or (b) access to the media is in rough proportion to the demonstrated support of a party or candidate in the electorate.
Is election reportage (reportage about politics during election periods) biased against certain parties and/or candidates?
Campaign finance Are there disclosure requirements for large donations?
If so, are these effective (i.e., are they generally observed)?
Is public financing available?