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Nations in Transit 2003 measures progress and setbacks in political and economic reform in 27 countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. This volume, which covers events from January 1 through December 3, 2002, is an updated edition of surveys published in 2002, 2001, 2000, 1998, 1997, and 1995.

The country reports in Nations in Transit 2003 follow an essay format that allowed the report authors to provide a broad analysis of the progress of democratic change in their country of expertise. Freedom House provided them a checklist of questions covering democratization and the rule of law and broad guidelines for ratings. (The complete checklist of questions and the ratings guidelines appear at the end of this section.) The opinions expressed in each report are those of the author. The ratings and scores reflect the consensus of Freedom House, the Nations in Transit advisers, and the report authors. Each country report is organized according to the following outline of categories and subcategories:


Electoral Process (previously called "Political Process"). Examines national executive and legislative elections, the development of multiparty systems, and popular participation in the political process.

Civil Society. Assesses the growth of nongovernmental organizations, 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 legal framework and the present state of press freedom, including libel laws, harassment of journalists, editorial independence, the emergence of a financially viable private press, and Internet access for private citizens.

Governance (previously called "Governance and Public Administration"). Considers the stability of the governmental system; the authority of legislative bodies; decentralization of power; the responsibilities, election, and management of local governmental bodies; and legislative and executive transparency.

Rule of Law

Constitutional, Legislative, and Judicial Framework. Highlights constitutional reform; human rights protection; criminal code reform; judicial independence; the status of ethnic minority rights; and checks and balances among legislative, executive, and judicial authorities.

Corruption. Looks at perceptions of corruption in the civil service, the business interests of top policy makers, laws on financial disclosure and conflict of interest, and anticorruption initiatives.

Beginning with this edition, Nations in Transit will no longer provide detailed analysis and ratings for economic liberalization in the countries under study. Over the last decade, several institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank have developed sophisticated and comprehensive tools for tracking the development of the post-Communist economies. Where a gap existed early on, a wealth of information is now available. Although the country report authors were not asked to provide discrete sections on privatization, microeconomics, and macroeconomics, Freedom House did request that they reference matters affecting economic liberalization, where appropriate, throughout their report.

Ratings and Scores

For all 27 countries in the survey, Freedom House, in consultation with the report authors and a panel of academic advisers, has provided numerical ratings for the bulleted subcategories listed above. The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of democratic progress. The ratings are then averaged to obtain overall scores for:

Democratization. Average of ratings for electoral process, civil society, independent media, and governance.

Rule of Law. Average of ratings for constitutional, legislative, and judicial framework; and corruption.

As with Freedom in the World, Freedom House's annual comparative survey of political rights and civil liberties, Nations in Transit does not rate governments per se, nor does it rate countries on the basis of governmental intentions or legislation alone. Rather, a country's ratings are determined . Methodology xii by considering the practical effect of the state and nongovernmental actors on an individual's rights and freedoms. These ratings, which should not be taken as absolute indicators of the situation in a given country, are valuable for making general assessments of how democratic or authoritarian a country is. They allow for comparative analysis of reform among the countries surveyed and for analysis of long-term developments in a particular country.

The ratings process for Nations in Transit 2003 involved the following steps. First, the authors of the individual country reports suggested preliminary ratings in all six subcategories. Second, the academic advisers reviewed the ratings and established consensus. Third, Freedom House allowed report authors to contest individual ratings if the advisers agreed on a change that exceeded the original proposal by more than .50 points. Fourth, Freedom House staff reviewed and approved the final ratings and used them to draw broad conclusions about the level of democratization and the rule of law in each country.

Research Team and Data Sources

Freedom House developed the initial survey and subsequent editions after consultations with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Freedom House staff members and consultants researched and wrote the country reports. Consultants are regional or country specialists recommended by recognized authorities. The research team used a wide variety of sources in writing the reports, including information from nongovernmental organizations, multilateral lending institutions and other international organizations, local newspapers and magazines, and select government data.

The economic and social data contained in the country header pages of the 2003 edition were taken from the following sources:

Ethnic Groups: The World Factbook 2002 (Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 2002). Ethnic groups for Ukraine are based on the 2001 census.

GDP per cap at PPP: Human Development Report 2002 (New York: UN Development Program, 2002). Data on GDP per cap for Bosnia and Yugoslavia were taken from the EBRD's Transition Report 2002.

Population: World Population Data Sheet 2002 (Washington, D.C.: Population Reference Bureau, 2002).

Private Sector Share of GDP: Transition Report 2002 (London: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 2002).

Nations in Transit 2003 Checklist of Questions


A. Electoral Process

  1. Is the country's electoral system stable? What are some of the indicators of stability or instability?
  2. Describe the electoral law. Is the electoral system multi-party-based? Do viable political parties, including an opposition party, function at all levels of government? What is the threshold for legislative representation?
  3. Describe the character of political parties and party life. Are there significant barriers to political organization and registration? Are political parties mass membership-based? What proportion of the population belongs to political parties?
  4. Describe the participation of ethnic and other minorities in the political process.
  5. When did the most recent national legislative elections occur? Were they free and fair? How were they-and their predecessor post-Communist elections-judged by domestic and international election monitoring organizations? Who composes the government?
  6. What is the character of the relationship between the government and the opposition?
  7. When did presidential elections last occur? Were they free and fair? What are the signature and registration requirements for presidential candidates, and are they onerous?
  8. What has been the trend of voter turnout at municipal, provincial, and national levels in recent years? What are the data related to female voter participation?

B. Civil Society

  1. Is civil society vibrant? How many charitable, nonprofit, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have come into existence since 1988? Are there locally led efforts to increase philanthropy and volunteerism? What proportion of the population is active in private voluntary activity? What are some of the major women's groups, and what is the size of their membership? Do ethnic groups have effective civic and cultural organizations? Do religious groups play a role in charitable activity? Describe the nature of their work.
  2. Are there anti-liberal nongovernmental institutions in the country? How influential are they?
  3. What is the legal and regulatory environment for NGOs and nonprofit organizations? (ease of registration, legal rights, government regulation, taxation, procurement, and access to information) To what extent does NGO activism focus on improving the legal and regulatory environment?
  4. What is the organizational capacity of NGOs? Do management structures clearly delineate authority and responsibility? Is information available on NGO management issues in the native language? Is there a core of experienced practitioners/ trainers to serve as consultants or mentors to less developed organizations?
  5. Are NGOs financially viable? Do they receive funding from primarily domestic or foreign sources? What is their tax status? Are they obliged to and do they typically disclose revenue sources? Do government procurement opportunities exist for private, nonprofit providers of services? Are NGOs able to earn income or collect cost-recovery fees?
  6. How do government officials and the public perceive the nonprofit sector? What is the nature of media coverage of nonprofit groups? To what extent do government officials engage them? Is the government receptive to policy advocacy by nonprofit groups?
  7. Are there free trade unions? How many workers and what proportion of the workforce belong to these unions? Is the number of workers belonging to trade unions growing or decreasing? What is the numerical/proportional membership of farmer's groups and small business associations?
  8. What forms of interest group participation in politics are legal? What types of interest groups are active in the political and policy process? Do public policy research institutes affect the policy process? 9. Is the education system free of political influence and propaganda? What proportion of the education system is private versus public?  

C. Independent Media

  1. Are there legal protections for press freedom?
  2. Are the media editorially independent? Are the media's newsgathering functions affected by interference from government or private owners?
  3. What are the main print and electronic sources of public information?
  4. What proportion of the media is privatized? What are the major private newspapers (list their circulation figures), television stations, and radio stations?
  5. Are the private media financially viable?
  6. Is the distribution for newspapers privately or governmentally controlled?
  7. Are there legal penalties for libeling officials? Are there legal penalties for "irresponsible" journalism? Have these laws been enforced to harass journalists?
  8. What are the major press and journalists' associations? What proportion of their membership is made up of women?
  9. What proportion of the population is connected to the Internet? Are there restrictions on Internet access for private citizens?
  10. What has been the trend in press freedom as measured by Freedom House's Survey of Press Freedom?

D. Governance

  1. Is the governmental system stable? What are the major indicators of stability?
  2. Does the legislature have the resources it needs to fulfill its law-making and investigative responsibilities?
  3. Do executive and legislative bodies operate openly and with transparency? Is draft legislation easily accessible to the media and the public? Is there something like a "freedom of information act"?
  4. Describe the constitutional and legislative environment regulating subnational levels of government. Is substantial power decentralized to subnational levels? What specific authority do they have? Are subnational officials chosen in free and fair elections?
  5. Do subnational governments have sufficient revenues to carry out their duties? Do they control their own local budgets? Do they raise revenues autonomously or receive them from the central state budget?
  6. Is there a competent and professional civil service at the national and local levels? Has the civil service code/system been reformed? Are local civil servants employees of the local or central government? Is the civil service subject to excessive political interference?


A. Constitutional, Legislative, and Judicial Framework

  1. Is there a system of checks and balances between legislative, executive, and judicial authority?
  2. Is the legislature the effective rule-making institution?
  3. What was the most recent effort at major constitutional reform? How does the judicial system interpret and enforce the Constitution? Are there specific examples of judicial enforcement of the Constitution in the last year?
  4. Has there been basic reform of the criminal code/criminal law? Who authorizes searches and issues warrants? Are suspects and prisoners beaten and abused? Are there excessive delays in the criminal justice system?
  5. Does the constitutional framework provide for human rights? Do human rights include business and property rights?
  6. Are there effective anti-bias/discrimination laws, including protection of ethnic minority and gender rights? Do religious groups function freely?
  7. Do most judges rule fairly and impartially? Are the courts free of political control and influence? Are the courts linked either directly or indirectly to the Ministry of Justice or any other executive body?
  8. Does the state provide public defenders?
  9. Are judicial decisions effectively enforced?

 B. Corruption

  1. Are significant limitations enforced on the participation of government officials in economic life? What are the legal and ethical standards and boundaries between public and private sector activity? Are they observed in practice? Do top policy makers (the president, ministers, vice ministers, top court justices, and heads of agencies and commissions) have direct ties to businesses?
  2. Are there laws requiring financial disclosure and disallowing conflict of interest? Are such laws enforced? Have publicized anticorruption cases been pursued? To what conclusion? Are there laws against racketeering? Do executive and legislative bodies operate under audit and investigative rules?
  3. What major anticorruption initiatives have been implemented? How often are anticorruption laws and decrees adopted? Have leading government officials at the national and local levels been investigated and prosecuted in the past year? Have such prosecutions been conducted without prejudice, or have they targeted political opponents?
  4. Does the country suffer from excessive bureaucratic regulations, registration requirements, and other controls that increase opportunities for corruption?
  5. What is the magnitude of official corruption in the civil service? Must an average citizen pay a bribe to a bureaucrat in order to receive a service? What services are subject to bribe requests-for example, university entrance, hospital admission, telephone installation, obtaining a license to operate a business, applying for a passport or other official documents? What is the average salary of civil servants at various levels?
  6. Have surveys of the perception of public sector corruption been conducted with the support of reputable monitoring organizations? What are the principal findings and year-to-year trends? Do trends suggest growing public intolerance of official corruption as measured in polls? Are there effective anticorruption public education efforts?
  7. How do major corruption-ranking organizations like Transparency International rate this country?

Nations in Transit 2003 Ratings Guidelines

The following broad guidelines were used to assist Freedom House staff and consultants in determining the subcategory ratings for electoral process; civil society; independent media; governance; constitutional, legislative, and judicial framework; and corruption.  


Existence of policies that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law.

Existence of best practices that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law.

2 Existence of policies that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law. Existence of most practices that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law.
3 Existence of many policies that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law. Existence of many practices that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law.
4 Existence of many policies that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law. Existence of some practices that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law.
5 Existence of many policies that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law. Absence of many practices that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law.
6 Existence of some policies that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law. Absence of most practices that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law.
7 Absence of policies that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law. Absence of practices that adhere to basic human rights standards, democratic norms, and the rule of law.