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Measuring Democracy

A Bridge between Scholarship and Politics

Gerardo L. Munck

Publication Year: 2009

Although democracy is a widely held value, concrete measurement of it is elusive. Gerardo L. Munck’s constructive assessment of the methods used to measure democracies promises to bring order to the debate in academia and in practice. Drawing on his years of academic research on democracy and measurement and his practical experience evaluating democratic practices for the United Nations and the Organization of American States, Munck's discussion bridges the theories of academia with practical applications. In proposing a more open and collaborative relationship between theory and action, he makes the case for reassessing how democracy is measured and encourages fundamental changes in methodology. Munck’s field-tested framework for quantifying and qualifying democracy is built around two instruments he developed: the UN Development Programme’s Electoral Democracy Index and a case-by-case election monitoring tool used by the OAS. Measuring Democracy offers specific, real-world lessons that scholars and practitioners can use to improve the quality and utility of data about democracy.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Series: Democratic Transition and Consolidation


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pp. vii

List of Figures and Tables

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xix

The measurement of political concepts, and of democracy in particular, has emerged as a key issue in academic and political circles. Political scientists, responding to the process of democratization that transformed global politics in the late twentieth century, started to address the need for systematic information to analyze this political trend ...

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1 Bringing Knowledge to Bear on Politics: The Uses and Misuses of Data in Democracy Promotion

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pp. 1-12

After the end of the cold war, the promotion of democracy became a concern of a broad spectrum of actors in global politics. Democracy promotion was born as an initiative of the U.S. government, but it grew to become a matter of interest of governments, intergovernmental organizations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) around the world. ...

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2 Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy: An Evaluation of Alternative Indices

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pp. 13-37

The study of democracy—a core concern within comparative politics and international relations—increasingly has drawn upon sophisticated statistical methods of causal inference. This is a welcome development, and the contributions of this quantitative literature are significant. ...

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3 Drawing Boundaries: The Crafting of Intermediate Regime Categories

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pp. 38-52

The notion of convergence around a single political model, a matter of much discussion in the heady days of 1989, increasingly seems to run counter to political realities in the post–cold war era. Thus, even as scholars have recognized the unprecedented shift toward democracy ...

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4 Producing and Validating Political Data: The Case of the Electoral Democracy Index

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pp. 53-85

This chapter seeks to contribute to the ongoing effort to produce data on politics by focusing on the electoral democracy index (EDI), a new index developed to study Latin American countries. The EDI, created by the author in collaboration with Jay Verkuilen for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), ...

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5 Assessing Elections: A Methodology for Election Observation Missions

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pp. 86-119

Democracy is about more than elections. Yet elections are not a distinctive feature of democracies. After all, the usual reference to ‘‘free and fair’’ elections indicates that the elections that are part of democratic systems are characterized by a series of features that serve to distinguish democratic from nondemocratic elections. ...

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6 Revisiting Concepts: Democracy and Other Political Values

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pp. 120-132

The measurement of democracy is inextricably linked with the definition of the concept of democracy. An effort to develop measures starts with conceptual issues (see section 2.1) and constantly reverts back to the content of the concept. A clear sense of the meaning of the concept being measured serves as an essential touchstone in matters of measurement, ...

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7 Developing Measures: Beyond Electoral Democracy

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pp. 133-144

National states have long had an interest in producing data on their resources and populations. The generation of statistics on a wide range of economic, military, demographic, and social issues coincided with the consolidation of government administrative structures; indeed, the term statistics literally means the ‘‘science of the state.’’ ...


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pp. 145-158


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pp. 159-174


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pp. 175-178

E-ISBN-13: 9780801896507
E-ISBN-10: 0801896509
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801890932
Print-ISBN-10: 0801890934

Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 7 line drawings
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Democratic Transition and Consolidation