Nations in Transit
Nations in Transit 2009
Nations in Transit 2009 is the 13th edition of Freedom House’s comprehensive, comparative study of democratic development from Central Europe to Eurasia. It examines 29 countries, including the newest independent state in the region, Kosovo. The overarching conclusion is that 2008 was a very difficult year for democracy: scores declined for 18 of the 29 countries, and a record eight countries are now in the “consolidated authoritarian regimes” category.Worrying trends highlighted in the previous three editions of Nations in Transit became even more pronounced in 2008, while positive trends lost momentum. A number of events illustrate the intensification of these negative trends.
In 2008, for the first time in the 21st century, a war erupted between two states covered in Nations in Transit. The so-called “August War” between Georgia and Russia served as a wake-up call for those who believed that the democratic decline observed in the region over the last few years would not have a detrimental effect on security and stability. Highly problematic elections accentuated the region’s troubles. Two petro-states, Azerbaijan (which recorded the largest democratic decline in this edition of Nations in Transit) and the Russian Federation, held uncompetitive presidential elections in which the result was predetermined. Armenia’s presidential poll was marred by lethal post-election violence. And the government in Georgia used administrative resources to seriously influence that country’s hotly contested presidential and parliamentary elections. Nations in Transit 2009 documents how journalists were once again at risk throughout the region, from Croatia to Uzbekistan, and national governments were challenged by corruption scandals, as was the case in Bulgaria; by divisive ethnic politics, as in Bosnia and Herzegovina; by parliamentary boycotts, as in Montenegro; or by infighting and outright irresponsibility among political leaders, as in Ukraine.