Nations in Transit 2013 is Freedom House’s comprehensive, comparative study of democratic development in 29 countries from Central Europe to Eurasia. The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 7 the lowest. Nations in Transit is an independent assessment with a methodology rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it measures trans-Atlantic-agreed standards of democratic governance. With the rankings released for 2013, Eastbook.eu takes stock of where the Post-Soviet nations placed, analyses whether there has been progress or regression, and asks whether we are surprised?
According to Freedom House in their statement about the Nations in Transit data release:
“In 2012, autocratic regimes in Eurasia fought energetically to keep the threat of democratic change at bay. In some cases, governments with established records of repression introduced new and arguably redundant measures to further constrain dissent, having already engaged in years of censorship, subjugated the justice system, and in some contexts resorted to violence. As a result, governance institutions in the region’s autocracies grew more dysfunctional, less independent, and more prone to corruption. “
Freedom House continues:
“Meanwhile in Central Europe, a public backlash against unpopular austerity measures destabilized several governments in 2012, testing the durability of democratic institutions. Despite frequent government changes and heightened political polarization, most states in the region were able to respond to mounting pressure without significantly straying from core democratic norms.”
The Baltic states were leading among the post-Soviet nations–with Estonia in the lead, ranking at 1.96. Latvia followed at 2.07 and Lithuania trailed slightly behind at 2.32, though all 3 nations have been categorised as ‘Consolidated Democracies’. The Eastern European Neighbourhood countries–Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova– ranked at a 6.71, 4.86, and 4.81 respectively. Belarus has been slated as a Consolidated Authoritarian Regime, while Ukraine and Moldova are both categorised as Transitional Governments/Hybrid regimes.
The South Caucasus was a mixed bag–with Georgia leading in the region at 4.75, and being considered a Transitional Government/Hybrid regime. Next was neighbouring Armenia at 5.36, and dubbed a ‘Semi-Consolidated Authoritarian Regime’. Azerbaijan was last, at 6.64, and categorised as a ‘Consolidated Authoritarian Regime’.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Central Asian post-Soviets were among the poorest ranking, with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan tying for worst offenders of all the ex-Soviets, with a ranking of 6.93 out of 7. Both nations are considered Consolidated Authoritarian regimes. Kazakhstan comes next at 6.57, then Tajikistan at a slightly improved 6.25. Kyrgyzstan was the best ranking in Central Asia at 5.96–and considered a Semi-Consolidated Authoritarian Regime.
Freedom House remarks on some notable trends from this year’s report:
“Georgia and Armenia made strides toward more competitive and fair elections as a result of new electoral laws that emphasized equal access to campaign resources and media coverage. Though there was some abuse of administrative resources and polling-day violations persisted, competitiveness improved and both votes yielded more representative legislatures. In contrast to these improvements, Ukraine’s downward spiral continued as parliamentary elections were marred by political prosecutions, legal manipulations, large-scale abuse of administrative resources, opaque campaign finances, and bribery. “
ICYMI, ‘Nations in Transit 2013’ finds authoritarian regimes resisting dem change
— Freedom House (@FreedomHouseDC) June 18, 2013
A Russian-language version of the essay is available here.