Methodology | Freedom House


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Read a Country or a Territory Report

Nations in Transit measures progress and setbacks in democratization in 29 countries and territories from Central Europe to the Eurasian region of the Former Soviet Union. The 2006 edition of the annual survey covers events from January 1 through December 31, 2005.

Country Reports

The country reports in Nations in Transit 2006 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 with guidelines for ratings and a checklist of questions covering seven categories: electoral process; civil society; independent media; national democratic governance; local democratic governance; judicial framework and independence; and corruption. Starting with the 2005 edition, Freedom House introduced separate analysis and ratings for national democratic governance and local democratic governance to provide our readers with more detailed and nuanced analysis of these two important subjects. The ratings for all categories 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:

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, 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 policy makers, laws on financial disclosure and conflict of interest, and the efficacy of anticorruption initiatives.

Ratings and Scores

For all 29 countries and territories in Nations in Transit 2006, Freedom House, in consultation with the report authors and a panel of academic advisers, has provided numerical ratings in the seven categories 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 follow a quarter-point scale. Changes in ratings are based on events during the study year in relation to the previous year. Minor to moderate developments typically warrant a positive or negative change of a quarter (0.25) to a half (0.50) point. Significant developments typically warrant a positive or negative change of three-quarters (0.75) to a full (1.00) point.  It is rare that the rating in any category will fluctuate by more than a full point (1.00) in a single year.

Nations in Transit does not rate governments per se. Nor does it rate countries based on governmental intentions or legislation alone. Rather, a country's ratings are determined by considering the practical effect of the state and nongovernmental actors on an individual's rights and freedoms.

The Nations in Transit 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 also allow for comparative analysis of reforms among the countries surveyed and for analysis of long-term developments in a particular country.

The ratings process for Nations in Transit 2005 involved four steps:

  1. Authors of individual country reports suggested preliminary ratings in all seven categories covered by the study.
  2. The U.S. and CEE-NIS (Central and Eastern Europe-Newly Independent States) academic advisers evaluated the ratings and reviewed reports for accuracy, objectivity, and completeness of information.
  3. Report authors were given the opportunity to dispute any revised rating that differed from the original by more than .50 point.
  4. Freedom House refereed any disputed ratings and, if the evidence warranted, considered further adjustments. Final editorial authority for the ratings rested with Freedom House.

Democracy Score

Starting with the 2004 edition, Freedom House introduced a democracy score, an average of the ratings for all categories covered by Nations in Transit. Freedom House provides the aggregate for comparative and interpretive purposes of evaluating progress and setbacks in the countries under study. Analysis shows a high level of correlation between the previous scoring categories and the new democracy score. Based on the democracy score and its scale of 1 to 7, Freedom House has defined the following regime types:

Democracy Score

Regime Type


Consolidated Democracy


Semi-consolidated Democracy


Transitional Government or Hybrid Regime


Semi-consolidated Authoritarian Regime


Consolidated Authoritarian Regime