About the Global State of Democracy Initiative
International IDEA launched the Global State of Democracy (GSoD) Initiative in 2016. This Initiative provides evidence-based, balanced analysis and data on the state and quality of democracy for 173 countries across the world. It aims to contribute to the public debate on democracy and inform policy interventions to strengthen democracy. The Initiative currently has several workstreams, including regional partnership hubs, digitalization and democracy, and data visualization. The primary knowledge products are:
Democracy Tracker, a monthly-updated qualitative dataset that monitors the most important democracy and human rights-related developments in 173 countries.
The Democracy Tracker provides comprehensive, monthly-updated qualitative data on democracy and human rights in 173 countries. The monthly updates flag developments that could impact the status quo of a country’s democratic performance. Each update indicates improvement, decline, or continuity with regard to democratic performance. Past updates are available as a searchable and downloadable archive. Country profile pages offer detailed, context-setting narrative overviews; data on each country’s political system and compliance with international human rights treaties; and updates on countries’ progress on their Global Summit for Democracy commitments. The country profile pages also provide a risk assessment, alerting users to countries’ risk of democratic backsliding and breakdown.
- Explore the Methodology to learn more about how Democracy Tracker was designed and constructed.
GSoD Indices, an annually-updated quantitative dataset that measures the quality of democracy in 173 countries around the world;
The Global State of Democracy Indices (GSoD Indices) measure performance across a broad range of indicators of democracy, covering 173 countries from 1975–2021. The GSoD Indices are built on a theoretical framework that organizes specific measures of aspects of democratic performance into five high-level attributes: Representative Government, Fundamental Rights, Checks on Government, Impartial Administration, and Participatory Engagement. These attributes are considered individually and are not combined into a single score for democracy. The GSoD Indices are composite measures that are built from 116 individual indicators collected by other organizations using different types of sources, including expert surveys, standards-based coding by research groups and analysts, and observational data. The GSoD indices include estimated values for 28 indicators (attributes, subattributes, and subcomponents) per country per year. All the indicators are scaled to vary between 0 and 1, with 0 representing the lowest achievement in the whole sample and 1 the highest.
- Explore the Methodology, Technical Procedures Guide and Codebook to learn more about how the Global State of Democracy (GSoD) indices were designed and constructed:
- The Global State of Democracy Indices Methodology: Conceptualization and Measurement Framework, v6, 2022 outlines the conceptual distinctions, theoretical framework and measurement procedures on which the GSoD Indices are based. This document has been updated to reflect the changes implemented in Version 5 of the data set.
- The Global State of Democracy Indices: Technical Procedures Guide, v6, 2022, outlines the technical steps taken in constructing the GSoD indices. It is written for readers who want a better understanding of the indices or for researchers who wish to use and build on the data contained within them. This guide builds upon the GSoD Indices Methodology.
- The Global State of Democracy Indices: Codebook, v6, 2022 provides details for all of the variables included in the data set. This document is an essential guide for the use of the data.
- Version 6.1 of the full GSoD Indices data set (with data through the end of 2021) is available for download in .csv and .xlsx formats.
GSoD reports, including an annual global GSoD report and several In-Focus reports per year:
- The Global State of Democracy Report, launched for the first time in 2017, analyses global and regional democratic trends. The GSoD In Focus series, initiated in 2018, applies the GSoD Indices data to current issues, providing evidence-based analysis and insights into the contemporary democracy debate.
Democracy Notes, International IDEA’s expert blog on democracy and human rights.
Frequently asked questions
International IDEA defines democracy as popular control over public decision-making and decision-makers, and equality between citizens in the exercise of that control. These principles are further defined through a conceptual framework that divides democracy into five main attributes, and 16 sub-attributes.
The data collection process involves comprehensive collection of online news media items relating to democracy and human rights in each of 173 countries. Sources include local and international outlets, reports from reputable NGOs and IGOs, and inputs from International IDEA’s regionally based experts. As a first step, we leverage the continuous monitoring of online news available from the Global Database of Events Languages and Tones’ (GDELT) 2.0 Event Database, which covers online media in 100 languages. This is supplemented by Nexis Newsdesk and additional manual surveys of local and international media that cover each country and conversations and interviews with regional IDEA experts, as necessary.
The Global Database of Events Languages and Tones (GDELT) is a data project that monitors, parses, and classifies news media. The GDELT 2.0 Event Database continuously monitors news media from nearly every country in broadcast, and web formats, in 100 languages. It includes hundreds of millions of event records in over 300 categories and is updated every fifteen minutes. For more information, see here.
Our analysts only report on events and developments that have the potential to impact the status quo at the country level, based on each country’s specific historical context and trends in the data. Events that do not meet that standard are not reported.
The front page of the Democracy Tracker tool includes “critical developments,” which highlight one particular update per region every month. What is considered the most critical update is determined based on that event’s potential to impact the status quo that month.
Events that are likely to lead to emergency situations receive warning signs, which indicate that they should be closely watched. Events that merit warnings could be part of a pattern over time, or they could be spontaneous but serious indications of impending change. It is important to emphasize that it is not our intention to imply that warning signs guarantee an impending crisis.
Events that are uniquely and egregiously damaging to democracy or human rights will be labelled with a red flag irrespective of context. This category of events is limited to events such as political assassinations, coups d’état, and the outbreak of wars. Red flags are typically applied only after an event has taken place.
Every month, our analysts use their event reports to determine if each of the GSoD attributes is improving, declining or staying the same. Upward trajectories are coloured in green, downward trajectories are coloured in red and stagnant trajectories are coloured in dark grey. These determinations are made based on the number and nature of the events that occurred each month, as well on the expert opinions of our analysts.
The annual forecasts are based on a probability estimate derived from a machine learning approach that treats the occurrence of an event as a classification problem. Namely, given a series of lagged data inputs, we estimate the probability that the events in which we are interested will occur in a given year.
The country profiles provide readers with an overview of a country's political context so that they understand the background within which new political developments are taking place. The profiles aim to paint a general picture of how the country came to be where it is today, what has happened of import over the last five years, what the main political debates are about, and what to watch in the future.
The Global State of Democracy reports are based primarily upon data from the GSoD Indices and Democracy Tracker.
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About International IDEA
The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an inter-governmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. Our mission is advancing democracy worldwide, as a universal human aspiration and an enabler of sustainable development, through support to the building, strengthening and safeguarding of democratic political institutions and processes at all levels. We work with local communities, democracy practitioners and partner organizations all over the world. We have global reach with our headquarters located in Stockholm and offices in 18 countries. Go to International IDEA website.