Scanning the Measures: Freedom House
Scanning the Measures: NELDA
Comparison of FH and NELDA within The Portrait of Albania
The democracy research incorporates a niche of distinct measures. Although this can be characterized as distinct future of the field, it also triggers differences between the definitions, operationalization and empirical study of democracy in scholar works. These indicators of democracy vary in terms of their natures, methodologies and applications. Some of them follow a taxonomy-oriented path, classifying countries into categories while others derive certain scores from various indices according to the country's performance in certain democracy components such as electoral competition, freedom of media, maintenance of human rights. This essay will compare and contrast two widely-used measures in democracy research; Freedom House(FH) and National Elections across Democracy and Autarky(NELDA). Firstly, the theoretical frameworks behind both of the measures will be introduced. In order to add a practical base to this comparison and identify the differences in pictures and/or the definitions both measures give, discussion will be centralized with the case of Albania. Following the critical evaluation of merits and demerits of measures, a conclusion will be formulated containing the opinion for more effective measure.
Scanning the Measures: Freedom House
Primarily founded in order to flourish popular support for American involvement in WW2, as a measure of freedom, FH is a multi-dimensional indicator, combining continuous, dichotomous and trichotomous elements. FH mainly measures the political rights(PR) and civil liberty(CL) in a country with a survey that contains 10 question for PR and 15 for CL. The results are then transformed into a rating for both of the parameters in which 1.0 being the best and 7.0 being the worst. This continuous outcome subsequently gets converted into a trichotomous picture where a country is classified as free(1-2.5), partly free(3-5)or not free(5.5-7)as it is put by Bogaards(2012).Following an initiative in 1989, FH also uses a dichotomous measure in order to add an electoral color to the picture of focused country. Taking its power from minimalist approach, FH emphasizes four major criteria for a country to score "1":(1)competitive, multiparty political system;(2)universal adult suffrage for all citizens;(3)contest regular elections with a secret ballot, reasonable ballot security, without massive voter fraud, yielding results that are representative of the public will;(4)significant public access of major political parties to the electorate through the media and through generally open political campaigning(Bogaards,2012).For this aspect, FH differentiates between liberal and electoral democracies since not all electoral democracies are sufficiently liberal.
Scanning the Measures: NELDA
Founded by Susan Hyde and Nikolay Marinov, The NELDA dataset contains 2600 election events in 157 countries between 1945 and 2006. Also having a minimalist standing(Hyde&Marinov, 2012), NELDA introduces three criteria: the allowance for opposition(NELDA3); the legalization of multiparty system(NELDA4) and possibility for more than one candidate to compete(NELDA5).Giving dichotomous indications about the scope of country's political competition, a country should get 1 from all three categories in order to be categorized as an electorally competitive country. NELDA dataset is coded by research assistants and high inter-coder reliability within them is the driving force behind the dataset(Hyde&Marinov, 2012).
For the focus period of essay, NELDA measure is updated with the parliamentary election in Albania which was held in June 28th in 2009. The conducted election fits with all components of NELDA; the opposition was allowed (e.g. Socialist Party/SP), the multiparty system was legalized and there was a possibility for more than one candidate to compete(OSCE,2009).This finding is represented in Table 2 in Appendix, where all NELDA data for Albania is reflected.
Comparison of FH and NELDA withinThe Portrait of Albania
Both FH and NELDA data for Albania show a fundamental parallelism in terms of main trends in the country within 1972-2011. Ruled by communist dictator EnverHoxha until 1985, Albania was "the most isolated country in Europe" for a long time(Kajsiu &Rakipi, 2002). In post-Enver era, the country adopted liberal policies which gave their fruit in the form of first multiparty elections in 1992. There was a movement from a totalitarian, communist regime to a democratic system(Kajsiu& Rakipi, 2002).
Considering 1992 elections in Albania's history as reference, both FH and NELDA draw similar pictures. Before the victory of Sami Berisha's Democratic Party in 1992, Albania performed poorly in both measures. Having "consistent" 7.0assessments in PR and CL in between 1972 and 1989, Albania is considered as "Not Free" for a long time(Table1).This tendency is also observable where country have not scored 1 in any of three NELDA components between the given period of time. However,there is an improvement in country's performance beginning from 1990. For the political atmosphere in 1991, FH changes Albania's status to Partly Free with a 4.0 and entitles it as an electoral democracy(Table3) whereas NELDA makes its first positive assessment of country. Undoubtedly, this parallelism is inspired from the constitutional changes introduced in People's Assembly in 1991.
In Albanian history, the seven-year period between 1993 and 2000 can be defined as a reformist period with country's seek for stabilization(Kajsiu & Rakipi, 2002). FH rewards this reformist attempt for stable democratization and economic growth with Albania's best-ever PR and overall score in 1993.However, Albania lost this momentum in both economic(Figure 2) and democratic spectrumswith the collapse of pyramid schemesin 1997 and the consequent disturbances(Kajsiu & Rakipi, 2002).Consequently all of these accumulated and led the SP to win 1997 elections. This shift in power also justifies correlation that was asserted between the economic performance and life-span of governing party by Larry Diamond(2011).
In 1993-2000, as an electoral measure, NELDA fails to give an accurate picture of these developments in the country while FH create more tools for research purposes. Nevertheless, considering Albania's "inconsistency" in between 1993-2000 in Partly Free status, the thresholds that the FH use(also serving as the base for the debate over aggregation)may be subject of skepticismabout their internal consistency. This may be explained with FH's adjustment efforts;as Bogaards(2012) points it out, the content of survey, boundaries between categories and the means of conversions, they all undergone minor changes over time.
Beginning from 2000 and persisting with the re-election of Berisha in 2005, both FH and NELDA follow a monotonous trend until 2011. Interestingly, Albania is also special with what it hides from these measures. In the last decade of 20th century, Albania had only one proper election(1992) without manipulations(Kajsiu& Rakipi, 2002). This phenomenon made the country embrace a fraudulent electoral culture for a long time. Neither NELDA nor FH address this issue effectively. Furthermore, the institutionalized corruption with an intense bribery(Krastek,2002) along with presence of Albanian mafia, growing crime channels and practicesof various human rights abuses such as child trafficking flourished through the end of millennium(Kajsiu & Rakipi, 2002).None of the measures managed to address/imply these underlying phenomena.
The differences between FH and NELDA lay in their purpose, definitions and operationalization of democracy. In comparison to its minimalist understanding of freedom, FH has a maximalist definition of democracy(Bogaards,2012). In contrast, NELDA,similar to Dahl's minimalistic definition which puts emphasis on participation and contestation in election(Dahl,1971),does not address any additional socio-economic aspect. Although this does not cause anycliff between the trends, FH's broader approach for operationalization of democracy creates a distinction between measures.
FH uses its first-hand surveysevaluated by regional experts whereas the NELDA is based on diverse selection of scholarly studies(secondary data). NELDA data is created with coding of these existing information about elections. FH leaves some space for subjectivity, but it pursues accuracy and reliability with its multi-dimensional structure. Along with this, although there are certain descriptions in FH's website about coding, as Munck and Verkuilen(2002) concludes, its coding rules, references and pure-data have not been madeavailable. To certain extent, this analogy is also applicable for NELDA as well.
 Detailed information, surveys and reports of FH can be reached from http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2012
- Quote paper
- Kaan Akkanat (Author), 2012, Application of Freedom House and NELDA measures to Albania, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/292755