Note: The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 7 the lowest.
Nations in Transit is Freedom House’s research project on democracy in the 29 formerly communist countries from Central Europe to Central Asia. The flagship of the project is an annual survey of democratic reform that has been published since 1995, and with the same methodology since 2003. Nations in Transit also publishes briefs on topics relevant to democratic reform in the region.
The Nations in Transit annual report researchers score the countries on a scale of 1 to 7 in seven categories:
National Democratic Governance. Considers the democratic character and stability of the governmental system; the independence, effectiveness, and accountability of legislative and executive branches; and the democratic oversight of military and security services.
Electoral Process. Examines national executive and legislative elections, electoral processes, the development of multiparty systems, and popular participation in the political process.
Civil Society. Assesses the growth of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), their organizational capacity and financial sustainability, and the legal and political environment in which they function; the development of free trade unions; and interest group participation in the policy process.
Independent Media. Addresses the current state of press freedom, including libel laws, harassment of journalists, and editorial independence; the emergence of a financially viable private press; and internet access for private citizens.
Local Democratic Governance. Considers the decentralization of power; the responsibilities, election, and capacity of local governmental bodies; and the transparency and accountability of local authorities.
Judicial Framework and Independence. Highlights constitutional reform, human rights protections, criminal code reform, judicial independence, the status of ethnic minority rights, guarantees of equality before the law, treatment of suspects and prisoners, and compliance with judicial decisions.
Corruption. Looks at public perceptions of corruption, the business interests of top policymakers, laws on financial disclosure and conflict of interest, and the efficacy of anticorruption initiatives.
These category scores are straight-averaged to create a country’s “Democracy Score” on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being the most democratic, and 7 the least.
Freedom House contracts independent researchers from academia, journalism, and civil society for each country to draft the country reports and make the initial scoring. These draft country reports and score proposals are sent to between three and six reviewers per country per year for comments. After researchers have a chance to respond to the comments, Nations in Transit and its advisors meet to finalize scores for each country. Where possible, scores reflect the consensus of researchers, reviewers, advisors, and Freedom House, but Freedom House has the final vote on all score changes.
The annual report is currently funded through a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID has no say in the methodology or conclusions of the report.
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