Free and fair elections worldwide?

Jan. 2, 2019 Weekly Graphs

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.

Keeping that in mind, our first Map of the Week for 2019 gives an overview of just how clean elections are perceived across Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania by using V-Dem’s Interactive Maps tool. What do we mean by a “clean” election? Our clean elections index consists of different indicators that control for fairness, violence, voting irregularities and corruption in the context of elections. Moreover, V-Dem asks whether the Election Management Body is independent from government and has sufficient staff as well as resources to administer a well-run election.

On the map, the clean elections index is shown for 2017 with values between zero and one. Thus, the darker the shade of blue, the higher is the perceived democratic quality of elections. The figure illustrates that Eurasia and Africa are framed by countries with higher values, namely Australia, Japan, South Africa as well as most democracies in Europe. This contrast draws attention to ongoing trends of democratization as well as autocratization in countries that have lower values on the index. These trends are vital to monitor since the establishment of clean elections is one of the most essential parts in the process of a country’s democratization.

To check out V-Dem’s graphing tools and to learn more about our indicators and different ways to measure democracy, please visit


Back to article list