Graph of the Week
Each week we are posting a new graph to demonstrate the breadth of democracy indicators available, the graphs are created using the Online Analysis Tools. This way we would like to encourage users around the world to use our Online Analysis Tools to interact and engage with the largest database of democracy measures.
India is the world's most populous democracy. It is also a religiously diverse country. Most of the world's Hindu population lives in India. The country also has large Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh populations. Its constitution asserts freedom of religion and the country is a secular state.
The effective provision of public goods depends on how public authorities spend tax money. However, in many countries, misappropriation of state resources by public sector employees undermines public goods provision. Denouncing this kind of corruption can be dangerous. For example, Fabián Gutiérrez, a former secretary to Argentina’s ex-president Cristina Kirchner, was murdered in June 2020. He was a "collaborating witness" with Argentina's prosecution in a case that involved public works projects, raising concerns that the crime was aimed at eliminating a key witness in the case.
November 10 is the United Nations World Science Day for Peace and Development. This celebration was created to underline the importance of science for people's daily lives. Science and technology advancement has dramatically increased life expectancy, worldwide, in the last century. The development of vaccines and medicines has reduced maternal and child mortality and many diseases have been eradicated. Moreover, scientific findings can guide policies and legislation and foster economic growth. Cutting-edge research has a fundamental role in improving living conditions and economic opportunities for citizens worldwide.
Voters in the United States decide today if Donald Trump stays for a second term or if Joe Biden becomes the 46th U.S. President. Incumbents have a natural advantage over the challenger in the polls. Since 1789, the vast majority of U.S. presidents were re-elected. However, the 2020 election is special in multiple aspects.
In the last weeks, Thailand witnessed massive student-led protests. Many citizens took to the streets to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha and more restrictions on the King’s power. In response, the government banished gatherings of more than four people and arrested activists. Nevertheless, pro-democratic rallies persist.
After two postponements, Bolivians headed to the polls on October 18 to elect a new president. The political climate around the election was tense, with a massive presence of troops on the streets and fears of fraud. Although no official results had been published at the time of writing, private exit polls suggested that Luis Arce from the Movement Toward Socialism party (MAS) won in the first round against his main competitors Carlos Mesa and Luis Camacho.
It has been seven months since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) as a pandemic. Almost all countries have reported cases, and most of them took emergency measures to contain the spread of the virus. The Pandemic Backsliding Project of the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute is compiling a dataset that tracks state responses to the Covid-19 pandemic to capture variation in emergency measures and their execution, addressing how these decisions affect the short- and long-term prospects for democracy.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, US Supreme Court Justice, died on September 18, 2020. She was fundamental for the comprehension that dissimilar treatment between men and women is unconstitutional. Her life achievements paved the way for women's rights in the United States. Fortunately, the world she witnessed at the end of her life is more equal than it was in 1933 when she was born. However, much remains to be done.
Countries can be more democratic or more autocratic. Over time, they can move up and down this scale, following changes in the fairness of elections, the protection of civil liberties, and the laws that keep governments accountable. When a country comes closer to the ideal of democracy, we speak of democratization. When the reverse occurs, we call the process autocratization.
Democracy has retreated globally since 2009. The V-Dem Democracy Report 2020 shows a growing decline in liberal democracy in all regions, from Sub-Saharan Africa to Latin American. East-Central Europe is no exception. In fact, the region is constantly in the spotlight for having emblematic cases of autocratization. Here, we will look at the development of democracy in some East-central European countries in the last decades.
Tomorrow’s United Nations International Day of Democracy is overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The UN is warning that the current measures taken by governments to get the pandemic under control are leading to major social, political and legal challenges; UN Secretary General António Guterres urged for transparency, responsiveness and accountability.
On July 1, Russia voted in a referendum to reform the country’s constitution. The amendments enable President Vladimir Putin to run again for two more presidential terms allowing him to rule until 2036. Vladimir Putin would de-facto become president for life. This week’s V-Dem graph illustrates the Russian government’s legitimation strategies and its censorship efforts of the media to get an idea of how Vladimir Putin maintains power and generates public support.
After two months of protests over corruption, economic issues and terrorism, parts of the Malian Armed Forces launched a coup d’état on 18 August and detained incumbent President Keïta and other government officials. In negotiations with representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the military announced its intention to hold new elections after an as yet unknown transition period. It was the fourth military coup since Mali gained independence in 1960.
On August 28 in 1963, over 250,000 civil rights supporters marched on the ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’ through Washington, D.C., demanding equal civil and economic rights for African Americans. At the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. held his iconic speech “I Have a Dream” that addressed the continuing inequality and exclusion that Black people face every day. Since then, issues of racial equality have been raised repeatedly across the USA. The death of George Floyd at the hands of a White police officer earlier this year sparked a new wave of massive rallies against racial discrimination.
On August 9, Alexander Lukashenko claimed to be re-elected as president of Belarus for the sixth consecutive time since 1994. Following widespread reports of electoral fraud, thousands took to the streets in all the major cities in Belarus, demanding Lukashenko’s resignation. Clashes between protesters and security forces led to the arrest of several thousand demonstrators and the death of one. The main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya fled the country. The European Union, among others, has condemned violence against protesters. Can mass mobilization foster democratization in Belarus?
On the 10 June 1999, the UN Security Council adopted the resolution 1244, effectively ending the war in Kosovo. Today, Kosovo remains a disputed territory, recognized as sovereign by 97 countries, but still claimed by Serbia. With these challenges in mind, this week’s graph focuses on domestic autonomy of the Kosovo and former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, made up of the present-day independent countries of Serbia and Montenegro.
As the new V-Dem Democracy Report 2020 reveals, Hungary is one of the worst affected countries worldwide when it comes to autocratization. It is now the only autocracy in the European Union. One area under particular threat is freedom of academic and civic space. V-Dem’s online country graph tools offer a closer in-depth analysis of Hungary’s state of academic freedom.
In 2019, people in both Venezuela and Bolivia took to the streets demanding accountability from increasingly autocratic governments. These protests were often accompanied with political violence. This week, we use the V-Dem online tools to compare trends in political violence by non-state actors in these two countries.
Yesterday marked the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which celebrates the chances and possibilities that the internet and other information and communication technologies bring to societies and economies. However, political parties also use the internet increasingly to spread false information, domestically and abroad. This week’s graph uses indicators from the Digital Society Project survey to shed light on the willingness of political actors to influence information online.
In this year’s V-Dem Democracy Report, Poland is the third most autocratizing country for the last decade. How are Poles reacting to this episode of autocratization? Is there growing resistance or are these developments met with popular support? In this week’s graph, we use new V-Dem indicators measuring mobilization for democracy and mobilization for autocracy, to explore people’s reactions to autocratization in Poland.
Yesterday, the world celebrated the World Press Freedom Day. Yet as shown with the most recent V-Dem data, large gaps in freedom of expression persist.
On 27 April, Togo and Sierra Leone celebrate their independence from France in 1960 and the United Kingdom in 1961, respectively. For these two West African countries, the formation of anti-colonial political parties played a key role in the struggle for independence. This graph of the week uses V-Dem data on barriers to political parties to illustrate how party politics have changed in Togo and Sierra Leone over the last century.
In late 2019 after a subway fare hike in the capital Santiago, thousands of Chileans took to the streets protesting for improved living conditions and constitutional reform, rejecting the existing constitution that was enacted under military dictatorship in 1980. The protests eventually forced the government to schedule a referendum on a new constitution for 26 April 2020. While the referendum has been postponed due to the global outbreak of the Corona (COVID-19) virus, mobilization and citizen’s participation in Chile continues to grow.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of “Arab Spring” uprisings. But there is little to celebrate: out of the six countries that experienced mass protests in 2010-2011, only Tunisia successfully transitioned to a democracy. On the other hand, recent protests in Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and, to a lesser extent, Egypt show us an ongoing vibrant demand for democracy. These developments are reflected in the new, V-Dem dataset (v10).
April 6 marks the anniversary of the start of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which led to the deaths of an estimated 800,000 to 1,000,000 people, mostly of the minority of Tutsi ethnic group. After 26 years, Rwanda is developing rapidly economically and is considered a model for many African states. The government strives to overcome previous divisions between social groups by emphasizing a shared Rwandan identity. Talking about ethnicity is a big taboo.
Every year on March 30, Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel commemorate “Land day”, to remember the land expropriations of Arab Israelis in Galilee (Israel) in 1976. Israel’s settlement policy is seen as a bone of contention in the Middle East conflict. Against criticism for its expansionist policies and amid demands for autonomy in Palestine, e.g. from the United Nations, Israel continues to expand its settlements in occupied territories.
On March 10, Russia’s State Duma approved President Vladimir Putin’s proposed legislation that potentially allows him to reset term limits to remain in office and further secure his political influence beyond the year 2024. Once Russia’s Constitutional Court has approved the legislative changes (which it almost certainly will), the Russian population will be able to formally accept the changes in a nationwide plebiscite on April 22. This week’s graph uses V-Dem online analysis tools to highlight rising presidentialism amidst declines in civil society and overall levels of electoral democracy in Russia.
In her recent book Democracy beyond Elections: Government Accountability in the Media Age, V-Dem visiting scholar, Dr. Gergana Dimova explains the relationship between media scandals, executive accountability, and the crisis of democracy.This week’s graph illustrates some of her findings using the horizontal accountability index of the V-Dem dataset.
Since 1911, each year countries all over the world celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th of March. The day celebrates social, economic, cultural and political achievements for and of women. It also calls for further action towards women’s rights, like fighting the end violence against women, closing gender pay gap, reconciling work and family, and equalizing women’s representation in leadership positions.
In a recent article in the Journal of Democracy, Milan Svolik argues that even though ordinary people may support democracy, in highly polarized countries they are willing to “trade off democratic principles for partisan interests”. In this week’s graph, we use the V-Dem data to investigate links between polarization and democratic erosion.
Whereas democracy in other South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Nepal has improved in recent years, India’s performance is declining. This week’s graph reveals the extent to which democratic backsliding threatens freedom of expression and association for the 1.35 billion people living in the world’s largest democracy.
February 11th marked the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Merely 30% of the world’s researchers are women. This reflects gaps in educational opportunities for women and girls. Equality in education is important to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 5, but also for sustainable development in all areas of an individual’s life. This week’s graphs offer a closer look on how educational equality has changed over the last 100 years.
Last week, the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump ended in acquittal without calling any additional witnesses or evidence in a partisan-tinged process that reflects the increasingly polarized political context in the United States. Recently, Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States Supreme Court argued that the United States Senate is the “world’s greatest deliberative body”. V-Dem data on respect for counterarguments among political elites may suggest otherwise.
The current outbreak of coronavirus in China raises concerns about access to information and how this will affect the global spread of a deadly illness. These fears stem from the Chinese government’s reluctance to share information at the early stages of the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, which allowed the disease to spread. Using new Digital Society Project and V-Dem indicators, we show how systematically the Chinese government hinders its people from accessing information.
In the light of the general elections in Peru on 26 January, this week’s graph highlights the comparative evolution of corruption in Peru and its neighboring countries using the political corruption index and the V-Dem Variable Graph tool.
Taiwan held its Presidential and Legislative Yuan elections on the 11th of January. In the weeks leading up to the election, several news agencies including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and NPR reported on disinformation campaigns, largely by the Chinese government, targeting the Taiwanese people before they went to the ballot box. The reelection of President Tsai Ing-wen was seen as a failure of the Chinese pressure campaign and a rebuke of China as a whole by the Taiwanese people. In this Graph of the Week, we use the V-Dem Country Graph tool to show various types of misinformation present in the Taiwanese political system from 2000 to 2018.
With the first Graph of the Week in 2020, we want to highlight the positive outlook that Harvard Professor Steven Pinker aired in his recent piece for the Financial Times.
The decision by the Swedish PEN to award Hong Kong activist Gui Minhai the Tucholsky prize for persecuted writers has prompted strong condemnation from the Chinese government. The award is associated with freedom of speech and symbolically granted to the writers whose right to freedom of speech is violated. This week we use the Interactive Map Tool to illustrate freedom of expression in 2018 for all countries of the world.
December 10th marks 71 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. This document was the first to encapsulate a set of rights that every single human being should be afforded regardless of nationality, gender, race, political opinion, religion or a multitude of other characteristics.
The impeachment inquiry against U.S. President Trump is now entering its 11th week. This week we use the V-Dem Country Graph tools to look at indicators related to checks on the executive and corruption within the United States over the past 50 years.
November 25th marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The UN General Assembly chose this day to commemorate three Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic who were assassinated in 1960 for their political activism against the Rafael Trujillo regime. To further spread awareness about violence against women, we explore the development of Women Civil Liberties index in a historical comparative perspective using the V-Dem Country Graph Tool.
Recent reports published by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemn restrictions on freedom of association and expression in Tanzania by President John Magufli’s administration. The V-Dem country graph highlights increasing repression of civil society organizations (CSOs), harassment of journalists, and censorship of the media in Tanzania.
Massive demonstrations in Chile over the past three weeks have resulted in the deaths of 15 people, with hundreds injured and thousands arrested. Chile joins several other countries experiencing widespread protests in 2019. This week, V-Dem’s Variable Graph illustrates the strength of anti-system movements between 2000 and 2018 in some of these countries.
This week, we use the V-Dem variable graph to highlight freedom of political killings in Ukraine as compared to the rest of East-Central Europe.
In October, millions of people went to the polls in South America, where elections were held in Bolivia on October 20thand in Argentina and Uruguay on October 27th. V-Dem’s Regional Comparison Graph displays the development of the Clean Elections Index in South American countries, comparing data from 2000 and 2018.
V-Dem’s HOS = HOG indicator considers whether the head of state and head of government are the same person of body, regardless of the relative powers of the two. Countries marked in darker blue (one) have a single person acting as the HOG and HOS in 2018. Those marked in lighter blue (zero) have different persons in these two roles.
This week’s V-Dem graph highlights the Political Corruption index that includes measures of six distinct types of corruption distinguishing between executive, legislative and judicial corruption. Higher levels on this index indicate higher levels of corruption.
On October 7th, the President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin is celebrating his 66th birthday. This week’s V-Dem graph highlights the “Person of the Leader” indicator to illustrate the extent to which the chief executive is characterized as being endowed with extraordinary personal characteristics and/or leadership skills.
October 3rd is the Day of German Unity, commemorating the reunification of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in 1990. V-Dem’s Variable Graph shows the Domestic Autonomy index in the years while the country was divided.
On September 24, 1789 the First United States Congress adopted the Judiciary Act, establishing the US federal judiciary, which consists of district courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court. To celebrate the anniversary of the Judiciary Act of 1789, we use V-Dem’s Country Graph tool to illustrate government attacks on judiciary in the USA.
15 September is the International Day of Democracy and once again V-Dem celebrates it with our graph of the week. This year’s chosen theme is “Participation”, stressing that democracy is about the people, and demands constant dialogue between people and their governments. The Interactive Map tool shows the levels of democratic participation of societies around the world in 2018.
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi died in July this year, prompting early elections on 15 September. As a result, elections for the president will take place beforethe 06 October parliamentary elections.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked the queen to suspend Parliament just days after MPs return to work in September, greatly reducing the time they will have to stop a no-deal Brexit situation from transpiring on 31 October. This also marks two years of failed negotiations and increasing polarization over Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
Tensions are running high in Hong Kong. Since June this year, hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in opposition to a proposed bill that would allow those accused of crimes against mainland China to be extradited.
Hungary’s democracy has been declining and its autocratic characteristics increasing since Viktor Orban came into power in 2010. Orban has been heavily criticized by the European Union for dismantling the country’s democratic institutions and extending control over its independent institutions. Orban’s actions have led to restrictions in Hungary’s judiciary.
Venezuela has been plagued by economic turmoil and mass emigration since the collapse of its democratic institutions. The deterioration of Venezuelan democracy began in 1999, when Hugo Chávez was elected as President. Under Chávez’s reign, political freedoms were curtailed and Venezuela underwent a failed socialist experiment which pushed the country into an economic crisis.
The European Parliament election, which is held every 5 years, took place on 25 May this year. Democracy in Europe has been declining in recent years. According to V-Dem data, the global democratic backslide was most visible in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in 2017.
General elections will be held in both Malawi and South Africa in May 2019. These elections take place in the context of very different electoral histories in each country.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria resigned on 2nd April 2019 after massive protests. This was after he announced his candidacy for a fifth straight presidential term, having already served as president of Algeria since 1999.
Months of massive food shortages and rising food prices recently drove thousands of Sudanese to the streets in protest. This led to the end of the 30-year reign by Omar al-Bashir when the former dictator was overthrown on 11th April 2019.
May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day. This annual event celebrates freedom and serves to highlight the varying degrees of media freedom across the globe. It also serves as an occasion to honor those who have died in the name of press freedom and to raise awareness on the repression that the media continues to face today. This year’s theme is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation’’.
The past decade has been chaotic for the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). According to V-Dem data, the region scores the lowest in terms of civil liberties in the world.
Local elections were held in Turkey on 31 March 2019 with unexpected results. The current President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered big losses. At the same time, the elections were a political triumph for the Republican People’s party (CHP), a secular opposition party, which won a considerable amount of the votes.
According to the United Nations (UN), the flow of migrants and refugees across international borders is at an all-time high with over 250 million migrants worldwide. Reasons for migration are varied, from fleeing conflict and poverty, to seeking better opportunities.
Military groups launched a coup d’état in Brazil on 1st April 1964 which lasted 21 years. During this period, Brazilians were forced to live under censorship, repression, and political persecution. In response to military rule “Diretas Já”, a protest movement, arose and took to the streets in 1983 and 1984 demanding the return of elections.
16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden has been fighting to stop global warming and climate change. She made the headlines in August 2018 for protesting by sitting outside the Swedish parliament for 3 weeks instead of attending school.
Over the last decade, direct democracy has become more popular around the world, with an increase in the use of referendums. The European Union ratified the use of the citizens’ initiative, a participatory instrument which allows citizens to suggest concrete legal changes in 2011.
March 8th marks International Women’s Day. It was first observed in 1913 and celebrates women’s achievements in society while calling for gender equality. There has been great progress since the first women gained suffrage in the late 19thcentury, to the record breaking 117 women who won elections across the United States in the 2018 elections. How does women’s political equality look today across the world?
2019 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The revolution led to rapid and profound change within the country.
Since mid-December large-scale, peaceful protests are shaking-up Sudan. After 30 years of dictatorship, citizens demand an end of president Omar Al-Bashir’s rule and a transition to democracy.
March 1st marks Zero Discrimination Day. It was first celebrated in 2014 as part of a UNAIDS campaign to fight prejudice against the victims the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
In 2014, Latin America could proudly proclaim to have four female presidents; in Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Costa Rica. However, Latin America is now about to lose its last female head of state (in March 2019) when Michelle Bachelet steps down as the president of Chile.
The 20th of February marks the celebration of the World Day of Social Justice. This was established by the United Nations in 2007 in conjunction with the adoption of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization by the International Labour Organization.
Venezuela is continuing to suffer from profound political turmoil. President Nicolás Maduro has been in power since 2013 succeeding former president Hugo Chávez via a special election after Chavez’s death.
Yesterday, citizens of El Salvador cast their ballot in the first round of the country’s 2019 presidential election. The Republic of El Salvador may be the smallest country in Central America, with approximately 6.34 million inhabitants, but its president has historically been one of the most powerful in the region.
In 1967, Canada’s Pierre Trudeau (at the time Justice- and later Prime Minister), father of Canada’s current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, famously declared that: “There is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”. The comment was made in reference to the ongoing debate on decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada, which came into effect in 1969.
Today, Martin Luther King Day is celebrated in the United States. The federal holiday marks the birth of the activist who became the most visible leader of the civil rights movement from 1954 until his death in 1968.
On the 14th of January 2011, growing protests in Tunisia forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia. This event, among others, inspired additional demonstrations and revolts in the Arab world that are referred to as the “Arab Spring”. However, eight years later, time has shown that only the uprising in Tunisia has resulted in a transition to constitutional democratic governance.
In 2018, the centenary of the end of World War I drew much attention to peace and conflict research. Now in 2019, several centenaries will focus on one of the most unintended outcomes of WWI – the adoption of women’s suffrage.
A brand-new year brings new elections! The year 2019 will be extraordinary. While the EU prepares for the election of the European Parliament (May 23th – 26th), there are also important elections coming up in countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, India, Ukraine, Australia and Argentina. With respect to the definition of democracy, free and fair elections are often considered to be a lowest common denominator.
Over the last decade democracy has been on the decline around the world. In 2018, approximately one third of the world’s population lives in countries that are undergoing autocratization.
Exactly 70 years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human rights are those fundamental rights considered to be universal to all people and include both civil liberties and political rights.
It is not only Donald Trump who continuously claims that the media holds him to a different standard in comparison to other candidates. Politicians and parties all across Europe complain about a media bias with respect to equal coverage. This is particularly true of opposition parties. Are they right?
The existence of free and independent journalism is crucial for establishing and maintaining well-functioning democracies. By constantly scrutinising politicians and public agencies, journalists perform an essential role that protects societies from corruption and the misuse of power.
October 5th 2018 marked the end of the first year of existence for the #metoo movement. Thanks to this social movement, measures to combat sexual assault have assumed a high priority on political agendas in many countries in the past year.
2018 marks the two-year anniversary of the Brexit referendum and the UK is scheduled to leave the EU in March 2019.
The recent presidential elections in the Maldives had a surprising result. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, an opposition leader, pulled out a victory overincumbent president Abdulla Yameen despite of governmental pressure and media restrictions.
The V-Dem Institute released a new interactive mapping tool allowing to explore V-Dem data in a form of a color-coded map!
The Supreme Court in India recently decided to overrule a 157-year old colonial era law which criminalises certain sexual acts as "unnatural offences". The law meant that same-sex relations were punishable with 10 years in prison. This new court ruling, that entails that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of fundamental rights, is hence a huge victory for the LGBT community in India.
The International Day of Democracy takes place on the 15th of September. The United Nations highlights this day by presenting a different theme every year. This year’s theme is “Democracy under Strain: Solutions for a Changing World”.
General elections in Sweden are held on the second Sunday of September every four years. According to this tradition, elections to the Swedish Parliament (the Riksdag) and to the municipal- and county councils took place last Sunday, on the 9th of September 2018.
Summer vacation is approaching for many of us here at the V-Dem Institute. But even though we might take a break, democracy doesn’t! This week’s graph will highlight a few upcoming elections during the summer months and the state of liberal democracy in these countries.
Turkey’s parliamentary and presidential elections will be held on June 24.
The United States of America has been seeing a series of strikes by teachers. It began with the West Virginia teachers’ strike in February this year and spread to other states such as Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado.
Venezuelans went to the polls on May 20.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak dissolved parliament on April 7 and general elections will be held on May 9. This election comes at a rocky time marred by the 1MDB scandal where $4.5 billion was reported missing from the state development fund. Of this, $700 million was connected to Prime Minister Najib. While he has denied any form of malpractice, many are still stumped that he has been able to remain as Prime Minister despite being implicated in the scandal.
South Korea’s ex-president Park Geun-Hye was sentenced to 24 years in jail on 6 April 2018 after being impeached in March last year.
On April 9, Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán claimed his third consecutive victory in the general election with his party Fidesz, winning a two-third majority in parliament. Mr Orbán, a Eurosceptic campaigned on an anti-immigration platform. While it was a landslide victory for him and his party, election monitors have acknowledged that the vote came amid bias media reporting and xenophobia.
The Paraguayan general elections are scheduled for 22 April. Leo Rubin, vice presidential candidate for the opposition alliance GANAR, handed a letter to the OAS General Secretary. In the letter, Mr. Rubin requested urgent intervention by the OAS to ensure the preservation of national institutions 'weakened by political figures thirsty for power'.
On March 18, the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad could be seen driving to the rebel-held suburbs of Ghouta, where Syrian government’s military offensive last month led to 1,500 casualties.
On March 9 Bratislava was the stage to the biggest demonstration in Slovakia since the fall of the communist regime. Around 40,000 people joined anti-government protests in the capital on Friday, in outrage and disbelief over the murdering of a journalist investigating corruption. His death prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Fico and other officials.
On March 16, 1751, James Madison, the father of the US Constitution and foremost advocate for openness of government was born. Madison was an active voice at his time for ensuring that the government of the newly-formed nation would hold no secrets from its people. Honoring this very concept today is celebrated the Freedom of Information Day!
On February 13, the Israeli police recommended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
After days of resisting orders from the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s ruling party, Jacob Zuma resigned from office on February 14. Zuma’s resignation came one day before the calling for a vote of no-confidence in the National Assembly. It indicates that his involvement in corruption scandals have finally exhausted the ANC’s support for the former president.
On 14 February, Justin Trudeau announced a series of upcoming formal meetings with Canada´s Indigenous People to discuss legislation reforms to better secure their rights.
On 24 January, a Brazilian appeals court upheld the former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s conviction for corruption.
With elections in Egypt set to take place in March, the current president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi faces virtually no opposition to his reelection campaign. While his victory seems certain, the president’s popularity nevertheless has dropped since he was elected in 2014. Egyptian civil society has been strongly curtailed and the country was branded as “one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists” by Reporters Without Borders.
On January 21, around 90,000 people flocked around the White Tower in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, to protest against a 25-year dispute: the addition of “Macedonia” to the name of the Former Yugoslav neighboring country. Attendance was just a fraction of that in 1992, when around a million people gathered in Thessaloniki to protest the name change.
On December 6, 2017, US President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Since the country had annexed the eastern part of the city in 1980, the question of control over its holy sites has been a crucial issue in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Hence, Arab countries and even Western allies protested against this decision that could trigger a new wave of violence in the Middle East.
On January 22, the former football star George Weah is inaugurated as Liberia’s new president.
On December 28, a series of protests started throughout Iran as a reaction against the rising costs of living, but quickly changed to broader anti-government protests.
The new year is still fresh, but both democracy and the V-Dem Institute are already busy again!
It’s been almost four years since the ‘Euromaidan’ protests ousted the unpopular Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Christmas is approaching fast, so let’s focus not only on peace underneath the Christmas tree, but also around the globe!
During the past months, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has intensified his threats to attack US territory. Contrary to his stylization as a strongman, some analysts believe that this might be a sign of Kim’s weak domestic position. However, information is scarce due to the country’s repressive environment. Nevertheless, thanks to a set of renowned Country Experts V-Dem can provide data on North Korea, too.
When the military seized power in Zimbabwe on November 15, it carefully avoided to name it a “coup”. Instead, the army put forward a different story: They were only targeting “criminals” who were “causing social and economic suffering”.
On 4 November, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri unexpectedly resigned from office, blaming Iran and the Shia militant group Hezbollah for destabilizing the country and seeking his life. However, observers believe that Hariri might have been abducted by Saudi Arabia and forced to say so. Is Lebanon becoming a playground for Saudi Arabia’s and Iran’s striving for regional predominance?
This fall, the “#metoo” campaign has been in the media across the globe.
This is the hundredth graph of the week!
Today, November 13, Presidential elections are planned in Somaliland.
Fake news! In 2016, the concept of fake news gained salience in connection with the U.S. presidential election.
The ongoing protests in Venezuela reached a tipping point in January 2017 with the arrest of political opposition leaders, and were followed by the dissolution of the National Assembly.
On September 26, King Salman of Saudi Arabia declared that women are now allowed to drive, effectively ending a 60-year-old ban frequently targeted by women’s rights organizations.
Recently, the situation of the Rohingya people in Myanmar has grabbed the world’s attention.
The government of Catalonia held a referendum on independence from Spain on 1 October, 2017.
The German federal election, held on Sunday September 24, has given Angela Merkel a new mandate.
September 15 is International Democracy Day and of course V-Dem’s favorite day of the year.
With the V-Dem Dataset version 7.1, V-Dem released the new Accountability Index and its three subcomponents: Vertical Accountability Index, Horizontal Accountability Index and Diagonal Accountability Index. This week’s graph will look at the Accountability Index across different European regions since 1930.
Graph of the week is back!
Summer vacations are approaching for many of us here at the V-Dem Institute, so this will be the last Graph for a few weeks.
On June 12, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny called on Russians to take the streets to express their discontent with current corruption levels.
In last week’s graph we took a look at the upcoming parliamentary elections in Albania.
Parliamentary elections were planned in Albania for June 18.
United Kingdom had its last parliamentary elections in 2015.
In Taiwan, top court ruled on May 24 that current laws preventing persons of the same sex from marrying violate their right to equality and are therefore also unconstitutional.
Last week a lot happened at V-Dem. The annual Policy Dialogue Day 2017 “From Knowledge to Action: Current Insights on Democracy, Governance and Armed Conflict” took place in Gothenburg. But most importantly, what we all have been working on finally happened. V-Dem launched the updated Dataset v7 “Largest Database on Democracy in History” and the first V-Dem Annual Report!
On April 23rd, French voters failed to give a majority to any of the candidates in the presidential election, setting up a second round runoff between Emmanuel Macron (En Marche) and Marine Le Pen (Front National) on May 7th.
The Hungarian National Assembly, Országgyűlés, is set to vote a law that will require any foreign funded academic institution to open campuses in the countries where funding comes from.
On the 2nd of April, Aleksandar Vucic was elected Serbia’s next president and will take office in May.
One of the main issues of concern regarding the fairness of electoral campaigns is where the campaign donations come from.
World Health Day is celebrated on April 7th to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 on eighteen proposed amendments to the Constitution.
The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.6 calls for effective, accountable and transparent institutions.
During the month of March, Netherlands, Ireland and Bulgaria are holding parliamentary elections. In the spirit of last week’s Women’s International Day this week’s graph examine parliamentary representation by women in these three countries since 1940.
The International Women’s Day takes place on March 8. In honor of this occasion we take a look at the new V-Dem Women’s Political Empowerment Index (find out more here) in different regions of the world.
In January, the Romanian government adopted a new bill that decriminalizes official misconduct for politicians and civil servants if a financial damage is less than 200000 LEI (45000 EUR).
The UN’s World Day of Social Justice takes place on February 20, 2017.
On February 19, general elections will be held in Ecuador.
The Gambian presidential elections, held this past December (https://www.v-dem.net/en/news/presidential-elections-gambia/), brought a surprising result when 23-year President Yahya Jammeh lost to challenger Adam Barrow.
On January 26th, the world’s largest democracy (in terms of population) celebrates Republic Day, which honors the 1950 Constitution marking India’s transition to an independent and democratically governed republic. On this occasion, this week’s graph takes a look at the development of democracy in India.
Myanmar’s recent military operations in response to an attack on a police station by an émigré-led Rohingya insurgent group have become the target of international criticism.
In December, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye was impeached by the Parliament over a corruption scandal involving her informal advisor, Choi Soon-sil.
Over the New Year’s holiday, violent and deadly protests occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down with the expiration of his second consecutive term in office on December 20th 2016.
The United Nations (UN) International Migrants Day is annually held on December 18 to recognize the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide.
With the holiday season upon us in many parts of the world, the graph of the week examines freedom of religion in four different regions in the world since 1900.
On December 1st, presidential elections in The Gambia brought unexpected political change. Opposition candidate Adama Barrow defeated Yahya Jammeh, who had been president for 22 years.
In June, the United Kingdom held a referendum on whether to remain in the European Union (“Brexit”) and 52% of the votes were cast in favor of leaving EU. Last week, however, it was decided that the Brexit decision would need the backing of parliament.
On November 8th the Republican candidate Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.
There are many places in the world where elections get delayed. This week’s graph examines two countries where elections planned for this year have been postponed: Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The United States’ presidential election currently dominates the media in many parts of the world.
November 2nd is the “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.” Over the past decade over 800 journalists have been killed for reporting news and information, but only 7 percent of the cases have been resolved and only one in ten cases have been properly investigated. Because of impunity, governments get away with censorship by instilling fear in journalists. This week’s graph takes a closer look at V-Dem’s harassment of journalists’ variable by using the V-Dem online analysis graphing tool.
The 2016 Nobel peace prize was awarded to the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos "for his resolute efforts to bring the country's more than 50-year-long civil war to an end".
This week’s graph highlights the drill-down feature in the V-Dem Online Analysis tool. It allows us to take a closer look at the component variables that make up any higher order index in the dataset that interests you. In other words you can drill down into the constituent data for each V-Dem index.
The Olympic and Paralympic games this summer has shined a spotlight on Brazil. Political turmoil, including the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and protests about Olympic spending and the displacement of Rio’s poor have figured prominently in the news. This week’s graph takes a look at the development of radical protests and corruption levels in Brazil. We wanted to see if these two political developments have any relationship to each other.
There are several elections taking place this month. This week’s graph takes a closer look at the development of democracy in some of the countries where elections will occur.
Female representation in national legislative bodies has increased steadily on a global level, yet we are still far away from equal representation. Currently there are only two countries in the world with 50 percent or more women in parliament in the single or lower house, namely Rwanda and Bolivia.
It is not only in Russia that parliamentary elections have taken place this week; on 20 September 2016 general elections were held in Jordan. The 18th Lower House of Parliament, the House of Representatives (Majlis al-Nuwab), was elected.
Russia held a parliamentary election on 18th of September 2016. Four major parties were contending for seats in parliament, the State Duma. Voters’ access to information is crucial for a well-functioning democratic process: what is the situation for voters’ access to information in Russia?
September 15 is the International Democracy Day and V-Dem’s favorite day of the year. This year’s theme is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda takes an egalitarian approach and aims to fight inequalities and reduce poverty, as well as tackling climate change.
Across the Northern Hemisphere, September means the beginning of another school year. However, expectations or opportunities for education are not the same everywhere. Educational equality varies widely across the globe.
Over the summer, pride parades took place across the globe, celebrating the advancement of rights for members of the LGBT community. The past few years saw great advancements for the LGBT community, from marriage equality in the US to full adoption rights in some European countries such as Austria, Ireland, and Portugal.
Joining the European Union does not happen overnight; rather, it is a long and complicated process.
In the race to the US election, the main candidates differ greatly on numerous issues, healthcare being one of them.
Today is International Women’s Day - a day to acknowledge women’s rights and turn our attention to the injustices and challenges facing women worldwide based on their gender.
In October last year, the EU introduced its Gender Action Plan for 2016-2020. It aims to transform the lives of girls and women throughout the EU, striving for gender equality and the promotion, protection and fulfilment of women and girls’ human rights.
The V-Dem Alternative Sources of Information Index measures to what extent the media in a country is (a) un-biased in their coverage (or lack of coverage) of the opposition, (b) allowed to be critical of the regime, and (c) representative of a wide array of political perspectives. In this week’s graph we examine this aspect of democracy in five of sub-Saharan African countries: Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Benin and Tanzania.
Former president of the Seychelles James Mancham has been awarded the Africa Peace Award 2016 for his work to, among many accomplishments, promote peace, interfaith harmony and good governance both in the Seychelles and in Africa as a whole. In this graph of the week we take a closer look at the level of liberal democracy and freedom of expression in the Seychelles.
Many people believe that one of the best ways to fight corruption is to promote democracy: if public officials know they are accountable to voters, they will be more honest. Is this true?
Last Wednesday was International Anti-Corruption Day. Corruption remains a large challenge for many countries, not the least for Brazil which is experiencing a major corruption scandal. This week’s graph explores corruption among different actors in Brazil.
In this week’s graph, the development in India over time in terms of egalitarian democracy is explored. Four of the indicators making up the Egalitarian Component Index are included in the figure.
The Myanmar elections on the 8th of November resulted in a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD).
The V-Dem Institute, among other civil society and academic organizations, has been participating in the discussions of a Virtual Network expert group organized by UNDP on how to measure Sustainable Development Goal 16.
On the theme of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals and especially goal 16, which promotes peace, justice and strong institutions, this week’s graph relates to yet another sub-goal. Target 16.7 aims to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.
In May this year the V-Dem Regional Center for Eastern Europe and Russia was founded at the University of Tartu in Estonia. It is the first regional research center within the worldwide V-Dem network and this Friday a seminar on “Varieties of Democracy: The Baltic States in a Regional and Global Perspective” will be held at the center.
Multiparty elections have become a near ubiquitous institutional feature of states around the world.
Last week we published a graph on the topic of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals and in particular goal 16, which promotes peace, justice and strong institutions. One of the 10 sub-goals (16.3) is to promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.
Last Friday world leaders agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals that are expected to shape the development policy agenda in the world for the next 15 years as the UN general assembly formally adopted the new development goals. Goal 16 promotes peace, justice and strong institutions for sustainable development and consists of 10 sub-goals, one of which is ensuring public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms (sub-goal 16.10).
One of the seven V-Dem dimensions of democracy is the participatory. The participatory component of democracy emphasizes active participation by citizens in all political processes, electoral and non-electoral. It takes suffrage for granted, emphasizing engagement in civil society organizations, direct democracy, and subnational elected bodies.
For Global Legislative Openness Week, V-Dem’s Graph of the Week depicts the degree of legislative constraints on the executive among the regions of the Americas, 1900-2012.
Electoral democracy is the core component in V-Dem’s conceptualization of democracy. The idea of electoral democracy encompasses the core value of making political leaders responsive to the electorate for the support of broad constituencies through competitive, periodic elections. Using V-Dem’s online analysis tools, variables such as the electoral democracy index can be compared across different countries and regions.
Distinguishing between various dimensions of democracy, the V-Dem data offer five democracy component indices: electoral, liberal, participatory, egalitarian and deliberative. These components are composed of a number of indicators and indices. In the graph, the indices constituting the liberal democracy component for Mexico - legislative constraints on the executive, judicial constraints on the executive and equality before the law and individual liberty - are displayed.
The V-Dem Institute provides a number of indices measuring different dimensions of democracy and governance. One of them is the female empowerment index, which reflects the ability, right and freedom of women to hold political power and participate in the society. It is comprised of a number of distinct indicators. The advantage of being able to distinguish between different aspects of female empowerment is evident from the graph below where Japan is the country of analysis.
The idea that material and immaterial inequalities inhibit the actual exercise of formal rights and liberties figures prominently in democratic theory. Hence, a more equal distribution of resources across citizens should enhance political equality. In the figure bellow, indicators used to measure the egalitarian component of democracy are displayed for a new country available for analysis on the V-Dem website: Timor-Leste.
Moves towards and away from democracy constitute a crucial part of the political legacies of a country. The current situation in Argentina, with the death (and allegations surrounding it) of a high level prosecutor earlier this year and the subsequent suggestion of President Kirchner to dissolve the Secretariat of State Intelligence, have made some commentators to draw lines back to the so-called “Dirty War” of the 1970s and 1980s, when the intelligence agency carried out violent human rights repression on a large scale.
Since the latest update, V-Dem has not only made available regional averages but also added more countries. Among those are four new countries from Oceania – Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. The “electoral principle of democracy index” seeks to embody the core value of making rulers responsive to citizens, achieved through electoral competition for the electorate’s approval under circumstances when suffrage is extensive; political and civil society organizations can operate freely; elections are clean and not marred by fraud or systematic irregularities; and elections affect the composition of the chief executive of the country.
V-Dem now proudly presents more than 400 indicators measuring different aspects of democracy. These indicators are averaged into lower-level indices and democracy components. The components then make up our high-level indices, measuring five principles of democracy: the electoral, the liberal, the deliberative, the participatory and the egalitarian.
Presidential elections in Kazakhstan originally scheduled for 2016 were held on 26 April 2015; parlamentary elections will be still held in 2016. V-Dem indicators allow us to gauge to what extent parties, including opposition parties, are allowed to form and to participate in elections, and to what extent are civil society organizations able to form and to operate freely in Kazakhstan.
An important aspect of equality is how political power is spread among different groups in the society. V-Dem offers a variety of indicators measuring the distribution of political power. The graph below shows to what extent different groups in society have been politically disadvantaged due to socioeconomic position, social identity, gender, or sexual orientation in Costa Rica. This country has one of the longest continuing traditions of electoral democracy in Latin America and data for this country on these issues has recently been updated.
Political empowerment is understood to include freedom of speech, participation in civil society organizations, freedom of movement, the right to private property, access to justice, freedom from forced labor, representation in the ranks of journalists, and an equal share in the overall distribution of power.
Last week, V-Dem released data for 31 new countries and updated data for 29 countries for 2013-2014, all available for online analysis on our webpage! A new exciting feature now available with this release on the V-Dem online analysis tools allows for comparisons between countries and the regional average scores on all V-Dem indicators.
Democratization has been problematic in many respects in Southeast Asia, with a track record of violations of central democratic principles such as press freedom and political dissent. While Indonesia has taken huge strides in democratization since 1998, countries like Laos and Cambodia have experienced a slower democratization process.
What makes V-Dem different from other initiatives aiming to measure democracy is that we take the many different dimensions of democracy into account by distinguishing among five high-level principles (i.e., electoral, liberal, participatory, deliberative, and egalitarian).
The state of democracy in countries are determined by various actors and institutions. Among other things V-Dem offers disaggregated data on the legislature, the excecutive, the judiciary, political parties, the civil society and the media.
Today is the International Women’s Day which is celebrated around the globe.
A couple of weeks ago it was announced that Nigeria will postpone its elections scheduled for February 14th until March 28th.
This week V-Dem is attending the final high-level meeting on “Dialogue on the Implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Strengthening Capacities and Building Effective Institutions”, in Moldova.
Corruption has over the years been increasingly acknowledged by both scholars and practitioners to be a crucial factor in the development of countries and well-functioning democracies.
Civil society is, according to many, a crucial actor for democratic governance.
The V-Dem dataset contains ten different indicators measuring different aspects of media freedom.
A number of countries will be holding elections this year, one of them being Burma/Myanmar. The country has over the past years moved towards reforming the political system, where the military government reintroduced national elections in 2010, and in that connection loosened the repression of civil liberties.
As the only global data set on democracy, V-Dem provides indicators capturing the extent to which public deliberation is part of the process of national political decision-making.
South American countries have traditionally been characterized by few female cabinet members.
The ability of countries to successfully conduct secure and non-violent elections is important for the political participation of ordinary citizens and an essential indicator of democratic consolidation. In many African countries, electoral violence remains a crucial challenge. One tragic example is the Kenyan crises of 2007, where thousands of people lost their lives or were displaced following presidential elections.
V-Dem registers improvements in democracy in Tunisia, the one case of democratization emerging from the Arab Spring.
Both democracy and development entail breaking down the barriers to gender equality. In many new democracies, female empowerment is growing.
December 18th marks the 4th anniversary of the beginning of the Arab Spring, during which civil society in large parts of the Arab world was mobilized.
Malala Yousafzai was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the youngest recipient to garner the prize. She has been an activist promoting children's education in Pakistan, especially for girls.
The V-Dem online analysis tool allows exploring and comparing trends in the development of a few countries over time.