Judging Successful Democratisation

Estonia, Lithuania, Chile, Botswana, Mali. Those are the countries that made the greatest strides towards democracy and a market economy in the last five years, says a report unveiled by the Bertelsmann Foundation.

Logo Berteslmann Foundation

​​In eight years of research work, teams at the two institutions developed criteria for assessing a country's progress towards free market democracy and, with the help of outside experts, evaluated the performance of 116 countries. The worst performers were North Korea, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Togo and Turkmenistan.

The Bertelsmann Transformation Index rates both a country's status and the governance performance by its political elite. Apart from the index, the research findings also feeded qualitative reports on all the countries studied. OECD countries with donor status are excluded.

The evaluators rated countries on the basis of 23 criteria, which in turn are based on 62 indicators. The status index criteria include political participation, rule of law, level of socio-economic development, market regulation, regulation of competition, and social security.

The criteria used to assess governance performance are efficacy of policies, effective use of resources, capacity for consensus-building and international cooperation.

The political performance thus defined was then weighted according to the difficulty of the conditions under which the countries' elites had to operate.

The purpose of the index and the qualitative reports is to show what kind of policy measures produce results under what circumstances. The index does not – as the Bertelsmann Foundation brochure points out – recommend a particular sequence of reforms.

Increased freedom enhances progress, says study

However, increased freedom of action for the individual and the society as a whole generally indicated progress in the right direction.

But the brochure presenting the index does not cast enough light on the downsides of economic liberalisation and deregulation. The country reports are more differentiated.

The Bertelsmann Transformation Index will be updated every two years. All the results, including the country reports as well as notes on the methods used are already posted on the internet in German.

According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, they will also be available in English by August this year.

© Magazine Development and Cooperation, 7/2004