Survey Methodology

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Countries at the Crossroads is an annual analysis of government performance in 70 strategically important countries worldwide that are at a critical crossroads in determining their political future. The in-depth comparative analyses and quantitative ratings—examining government accountability, civil liberties, rule of law, and anticorruption and transparency efforts—are intended to help international policymakers identify areas of progress, as well as to highlight areas of concern that could be addressed in diplomatic efforts and reform assistance. A new edition of Crossroads is published each year, with approximately half of the 70 countries analyzed in odd-numbered years and the other half in even-numbered years.

The 2010 edition is the fifth in the Countries at the Crossroads series. It evaluates 21 of the countries last examined in the 2006 edition, providing an opportunity for time series analysis and assessment of the extent to which this group of countries is backsliding, stalling, or improving in terms of democratic governance. The time frame for events covered by the country scores is December 1, 2005 through May 31, 2009. In addition, 11 countries are included in the analysis for the first time.

In cooperation with a team of methodology experts, Freedom House designed a methodology that includes a questionnaire used both to prepare analytical narratives and for numerical ratings for each government. The methodology provides authors with a transparent and consistent guide to scoring and analyzing the countries under review, and uses identical benchmarks for both narratives and ratings, rendering the two indicators mutually reinforcing. The final result is a system of comparative ratings accompanied by narratives that reflect governments’ commitment to passing good laws and also their records on upholding them.

Freedom House enlisted the participation of prominent scholars and analysts to author the publication’s country reports. In preparing the written analyses with accompanying comparative ratings, Freedom House undertook a systematic gathering of data. Each country narrative report is approximately 7,000 words long. Expert regional advisers reviewed the draft reports, providing written comments and requests for revisions, additions, or clarifications. Authors were asked to respond as fully as possible to all of the questions posed when composing the analytical narratives.
For all countries in the analysis, Freedom House, in consultation with the report authors and academic advisers, has provided detailed numerical ratings.

Authors produced a first round of ratings by assigning scores on a scale of 0-7 for each of the 75 methodology questions, where 0 represents weakest performance and 7 represents strongest performance. The scores were then aggregated into seventeen subcategories and four main thematic areas. The regional advisers and Freedom House staff systematically reviewed all country ratings on a comparative basis to ensure accuracy and fairness. All final ratings decisions rest with Freedom House.

In devising a framework for evaluating government performance, Freedom House sought to develop a scale broad enough to capture degrees of variation so that comparisons could be made between countries in the current year, and also so that future time series comparisons might be made to assess a country’s progress in these areas relative to past performance. These scales achieve an effective balance between a scoring system that is too broad—which may make it difficult for analysts to make fine distinctions between different scores—and one that is too narrow—which may make it difficult to capture degrees of variation between countries and therefore more difficult to recognize how much a given government’s performance has improved or eroded over time.

Narrative essays and scoring were applied to the following main areas of performance, which Freedom House considers to be key to evaluating the state of democratic governance within a country:
 
ACCOUNTABILITY AND PUBLIC VOICE
  • Free and fair electoral laws and elections
  • Effective and accountable government
  • Civic engagement and civic monitoring
  • Media independence and freedom of expression
 
CIVIL LIBERTIES
  • Protection from state terror, unjustified imprisonment, and torture
  • Gender equity
  • Rights of ethnic, religious, and other distinct groups
  • Freedom of conscience and belief
  • Freedom of association and assembly
 
RULE OF LAW
  • Independent judiciary
  • Primacy of rule of law in civil and criminal matters
  • Accountability of security forces and military to civilian authorities
  • Protection of property rights
 
ANTICORRUPTION AND TRANSPARENCY
  • Environment to protect against corruption
  • Procedures and systems to enforce anticorruption laws
  • Enforcement of anticorruption norms, standards, and protections
  • Governmental transparency
 

Scoring Range

The analysis rates countries’ performance on each methodology question on a scale of 0-7, with 0 representing the weakest performance and 7 the strongest. The scoring scale is as follows:
 
Score of 0–2: Countries that receive a score of 0, 1, or 2 ensure no or very few adequate protections, legal standards, or rights in the rated category. Laws protecting the rights of citizens or the justice of the political process are minimal, rarely enforced, or routinely abused by the authorities.
Score of 3–4: Countries that receive a score of 3 or 4 provide some adequate protections, legal standards, or rights in the rated category. Legal protections are weak and enforcement of the law is inconsistent or corrupt.
Score of 5: Countries that receive a score of 5 provide many adequate protections, legal standards or rights in the rated category. Rights and political standards are protected, but enforcement may be unreliable and some abuses may occur. A score of 5 is considered to be the basic standard of democratic performance.
Score of 6–7: Countries that receive a score of 6 or 7 ensure all or nearly all adequate protections, legal standards, or rights in the rated category. Legal protections are strong and are enforced fairly. Citizens have access to legal redress when their rights are violated, and the political system functions smoothly.
 
 
 


Methodology Questions

  1. Accountability and Public Voice
    1. Free and fair electoral laws and elections
      1. Is the authority of government based upon the will of the people as expressed by regular, free, and fair elections under fair electoral laws, with universal and equal suffrage, open to multiple parties, conducted by secret ballot, monitored by independent electoral authorities, with honest tabulation of ballots, and free of fraud and intimidation?
      2. Are there equal campaigning opportunities for all parties?
      3. Is there the opportunity for the effective rotation of power among a range of different political parties representing competing interests and policy options?
      4. Are there adequate regulations to prevent undue influence of economically privileged interests (e.g., effective campaign finance laws), and are they enforced?
    2. Effective and accountable government
      1. Are the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government able to oversee the actions of one another and hold each other accountable for any excessive exercise of power?
      2. Does the state system ensure that people’s political choices are free from domination by the specific interests of power groups (e.g., the military, foreign powers, totalitarian parties, regional hierarchies, and/or economic oligarchies)?
      3. Is the civil service selected, promoted, and dismissed on the basis of open competition and by merit?
      4. Is the state engaged in issues reflecting the interests of women; ethnic, religious, and other distinct groups; and disabled people?
    3. Civic engagement and civic monitoring
      1. Are civic groups able to testify, comment on, and influence pending government policy or legislation?
      2. Are nongovernmental organizations free from legal impediments from the state and from onerous requirements for registration?
      3. Are donors and funders of civic organizations and public policy institutes free of state pressures?
    4. Media independence and freedom of expression
      1. Does the state support constitutional or other legal protections for freedom of expression and an environment conducive to media freedom?
      2. Does the state oppose the use of onerous libel, security, or other laws to punish through either excessive fines or imprisonment those who scrutinize government officials and policies?
      3. Does the government protect journalists from extra-legal intimidation, arbitrary arrest and detention, or physical violence at the hands of state authorities or any other actor, including through fair and expeditious investigation and prosecution when cases do occur?
      4. Does the state refrain from direct and indirect censorship of print or broadcast media?
      5. Does the state hinder access to the Internet as an information source?
      6. Does the state refrain from funding the media in order to propagandize, primarily provide official points of view, and/or limit access by opposition parties and civic critics?
      7. Does the government otherwise refrain from attempting to influence media content (e.g., through direct ownership of distribution networks or printing facilities; prohibitive tariffs; onerous registration requirements; selective distribution of advertising; or bribery)?
  2. Civil Liberties
    1. Protection from state terror, unjustified imprisonment, and torture
      1. Is there protection against torture by officers of the state, including through effective punishment in cases where torture is found to have occurred?
      2. Are prison conditions respectful of the human dignity of inmates?
      3. Does the state effectively protect against or respond to attacks on political opponents or other peaceful activists?
      4. Are there effective protections against arbitrary arrest, including of political opponents or other peaceful activists?
      5. Is there effective protection against long-term detention without trial?
      6. Does the state protect citizens from abuse by private/non-state actors (including crime and terrorism)?
      7. Does the state take measures to prevent human trafficking?
      8. Do citizens have means of effective petition and redress when their rights are violated by state authorities?
    2. Gender equity
      1. Does the state ensure that both men and women are entitled to the full enjoyment of all civil and political rights?
      2. Does the state take measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs, and practices that constitute discrimination against women?
      3. Does the state make reasonable efforts to protect against gender discrimination in employment and occupation?
    3. Rights of ethnic, religious, and other distinct groups
      1. Does the state ensure that persons belonging to ethnic, religious, and other distinct groups exercise fully and effectively all their human rights and fundamental freedoms (including ethnic, cultural, and linguistic rights) without discrimination and with full equality before the law?
      2. Does the state take measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs, and practices that constitute discrimination against ethnic, religious, and other distinct groups?
      3. Does the state make a progressive effort to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs, and practices that constitute discrimination against disabled people?
      4. Does the state make reasonable efforts to protect against discrimination against ethnic, religious, and other distinct groups in employment and occupation?
    4. Freedom of conscience and belief
      1. Does the state accept the right of its citizens to hold religious beliefs of their choice and practice their religion as they deem appropriate, within reasonable constraints?
      2. Does the state refrain from involvement in the appointment of religious or spiritual leaders and in the internal organizational activities of faith-related organizations?
      3. Does the state refrain from placing restrictions on religious observance, religious ceremony, and religious education?
    5. Freedom of association and assembly
      1. Does the state recognize every person’s right to freedom of association and assembly?
      2. Does the state respect the right to form, join, and participate in free and independent trade unions?
      3. Does the state effectively protect and recognize the rights of civic associations, business organizations, and political organizations to organize, mobilize, and advocate for peaceful purposes?
      4. Does the state permit demonstrations and public protests and refrain from using excessive force against them?
  3. Rule of Law
    1. Independent judiciary
      1. Is there independence, impartiality, and nondiscrimination in the administration of justice, including from economic, political or religious influences?
      2. Are judges and magistrates protected from interference by the executive and/or legislative branches?
      3. Do legislative, executive, and other governmental authorities comply with judicial decisions, which are not subject to change except through established procedures for judicial review?
      4. Are judges appointed, promoted, and dismissed in a fair and unbiased manner?
      5. Are judges appropriately trained in order to carry out justice in a fair and unbiased manner?
    2. Primacy of rule of law in civil and criminal matters
      1. According to the legal system, is everyone charged with a criminal offence presumed innocent until proven guilty?
      2. Are citizens given a fair, public, and timely hearing by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal? 
      3. Do citizens have the right and access to independent counsel?
      4. Are prosecutors independent of political direction and control?
      5. Are public officials and ruling party actors prosecuted for the abuse of power and other wrongdoing?
    3. Accountability of security forces and military to civilian authorities
      1. Is there effective and democratic civilian state control of the police, military, and internal security forces through the judicial, legislative, and executive branches?
      2. Do police, military, and internal security services refrain from interference and/or involvement in the political process?
      3. Are the police, military, and internal security services held accountable for any abuses of power for personal gain?
      4. Do members of the police, military and internal security services respect human rights?
    4. Protection of property rights
      1. Does the state give everyone the right to own property alone as well as in association with others?
      2. Does the state adequately enforce property rights and contracts, including through adequate provisions for indigenous populations?
      3. Does the state protect citizens from the arbitrary and/or unjust deprivation of their property (e.g., Does the state unjustly revoke property titles for governmental use or to pursue a political agenda)?
  4. Anticorruption and Transparency
    1. Environment to protect against corruption
      1. Is the government free from excessive bureaucratic regulations, registration requirements, and/or other controls that increase opportunities for corruption?
      2. Is state activity in the economy (including public enterprises and privatizations) regulated in a manner that minimizes opportunities for corruption?                   
      3. Does the state enforce the separation of public office from the personal interests of public officeholders?
      4. Are there adequate financial disclosure procedures that prevent conflicts of interest among public officials (e.g., Are the assets declarations of public officials open to public and media scrutiny and verification)?
    2. Procedures and systems to enforce anticorruption laws
      1. Does the state enforce an effective legislative or administrative process designed to promote integrity and to prevent, detect, and punish the corruption of public officials?
      2. Are there effective and independent investigative and auditing bodies created by the government (e.g., an auditor general or comptroller) and do they function without impediment or political pressure?
      3. Does the state provide victims of corruption with adequate mechanisms to pursue their rights?
      4. Does the tax administrator implement effective internal audit systems to ensure the accountability of tax, royalty, and tariff collection?
    3. Existence of anticorruption norms, standards, and protections
      1. Are allegations of corruption by government officials at the national and local levels thoroughly investigated and prosecuted without prejudice?
      2. Are allegations of corruption given wide and unbiased airing in the news media?
      3. Do whistleblowers, anticorruption activists, investigators have a legal environment that protects them, so they feel secure about reporting cases of bribery and corruption?
      4. Does the state protect education from pervasive corruption and graft (e.g., Are bribes necessary to gain admission or good grades)?
    4. Governmental transparency
      1. Is there significant legal, regulatory, and judicial transparency as manifested through public access to government information?
      2. Do citizens have a legal right to obtain information about government operations, and means to petition government agencies for it?
      3. Is the executive budget-making process comprehensive and transparent and subject to meaningful legislative review and scrutiny?
      4. Does the government publish detailed and accurate accounting of expenditures in a timely fashion?
      5. Does the state ensure transparency, open-bidding, and effective competition in the awarding of government contracts?
      6. Does the government enable the fair and legal administration and distribution of foreign assistance?