Use this page to work on the classification criteria that your group is developing. This will be a checklist that explains how each of you is supposed to classify a randomly drawn regime.

Issues to consider:

  • Will you be measuring "democracy" and "dictatorship" or something related (e.g., freedom, authority?) What is the interesting thing you want to measure? (E.g., the size of the selectorate, or the degree of constraint on executive power, or anything else).
  • How will you determine whether a country is a dictatorship or not? Will you focus on observable features of the regime, or will you make subjective judgments? What observable criteria can you use?
  • Will you make a classification based on a number of different categories, or on an index (from 0 to 10, for example)
  • Does your criteria appear to require data that is hard to obtain? Where do you think you can get the information?
  • How do you deal with countries that are/were not independent?
  • How do you deal with civil war or revolution? Can there be a “regime” during times of civil war or revolution?
  • Will you distinguish between different kinds of dictatorship? If so, how?
  • What sorts of questions could this classification help answer?

Remember to write down your classification criteria as precisely as possible. For example, if you think that "competitive elections" is the important characteristic, you need to write down exactly what conditions make an election competitive: do there need to be multiple parties? does the winner need to win by fewer than certain number of votes? Will international observers need to certify the election?

Classification System (a work in progress)
Aggie, Sarah, Samantha, Sarah, Jim, Sandra
Ideally this will be a classification system which will result in a categorical distinctions between democracies and non-democracies. At the moment it asks that countries be given a numerical value (0-3) based on criteria given under a number of different headings which we've adapted from Levitsky and Way's arena's of political competition. The higher score of 3 will indicate regimes that trend toward more democratic, the lower scores indicate a trend toward more non-democratic regimes.

This is a two part classification system, the first part of the questionaire will give countries a score out of 6 measuring in very basic terms, whether or not they are democratic. 5 and above and the state is democratic, 4 and below and they are non democratic.
The second part of the questionaire considers wider freedoms and will help to place the state at a point along continum from liberal democracy to authoritarian dictatorship. This too will be based on a numerical score.
Useful sources:
- Wikipedia (for a general overview but no concrete distinctions, try to use other more reliable sources for actual use in the classifications)
- Freedom house (
- Transparency international (
- Reporters without borders (
- Polity IV Project (
- Earthtrends (
- UN country profiles (

See also:

Elections in Africa and Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook, Vols 1-2. Available as electronic resources in the library (here,here, and here). - xmarquez xmarquez Mar 22, 2011

This part of the classification will leave countries with a score out of 6 measuring whether we would consider them to be democratic or non democratic by a very basic definition based on political competition and competitive elections. A score 5 and above and a state will be considered democratic, 4 and below and they are non democratic.

A couple of issues. What if elections exist and are relatively competitive but some significant fraction of the population is disqualified from voting? (E.g., South Africa under Apartheid) changed that bit How do you tell an election is free and fair, especially in a country that you otherwise know little about? International observers? Reports of violence? A suspiciously high percentage of the vote for the incumbent? - xmarquez xmarquez Mar 24, 2011- there's not really any way that any external measurement of elections can be certain to provide an accurate picture, if there is enough suspicion of vote tampering or fixing of elections then multiple sources will indicate this is the case. Beyond that I guess there's not a whole lot we can do.
Institutions for selecting rulers
a) Consultation of public opinion ( elections, polls, referendums)
3. Free and fair elections, polls, referendums (public is not restricted from participation, coercerd or otherwise)
2. Relatively free and fair, some suggestions of corruption, vote disqualification and or some groups are not allowed to vote, tampering et cetera, but largely seen to be representative.
1. Elections take place but they are accepted as corrupt, highly in favour of the incumbent, or merely a facade. Also if large parts of the general population are forbidden from voting. (These may be two different things - in some cases there may be multiple parties etc. and the opposition might have a share in power; in others they will be truly a facade. - xmarquez xmarquez Mar 19, 2011)- that however is more to do with the power of the parties themselves and how power is divided in the legislature rather than the nature of elections though? Whether the opposition is coopted into the government that is.
0. No public participation in elections, polls or referendums/ none exist

b) Political competition for office
3. Multi-party system, where parties are clearly ideologically defined and free to participate/campaign et cetera
2. Dominant party exists but so too does competition, who have ideological definition and are allowed to participate relatively freely, however they lack some of the advantages in electoral competition possessed by the current regime e.g. funding, advertisement etc.
1. Single party is largely dominant, some small competition exists but is either suppressed by the regime or garners little popular support.
0. Single party regime/ "opposition" parties exist as a facade only. Also includes regimes where there are no parties at all. (Will this include regimes where there are no parties at all? - xmarquez xmarquez Mar 19, 2011 )

This part of the classification will determine what type of regime it is, expanding on our initial classification of whether the state is broadly democratic. The higher a state's score the closer it can be considered to be to a liberal democracy (definition).
Are different combinations of scores in this part representative of different types of dictatorship? E.g., totalitarian/tinpot etc.? - xmarquez xmarquez Mar 24, 2011
2. Institutions concerning freedom of expression
a) Media
3. Free and unimpaired media exists, largely without question.
2. Media is largely free, some government influence/ownership exists but are generally free to report without fear of violence or official legal action.
1. Coercion and violence toward media outlets is common place/ media outlets are largely state controlled however a small number of independent press organisations exist.
0. Total state control of media.

b) Civil Society- Freedoms of speech, association and assembly
3. Total/near total freedoms
2. Relatively free, some government influence exists but response is generally non-violent
1. Fear of violent action against public dissent exists but protest and speech against the regime still exists.
0. Threat of violent action and persecution of dissenters so great that popular expression is near non-existent.

3. Institutions for state control and exercise of power (This is good, but is it part of a measure of political competition? May need further justification. - xmarquez xmarquez Mar 19, 2011 ) I think it's an important element in measuring regimes on a scale of democracy to non democracy as political competition is not only confined to elections and public arenas but also the ways in which the various branches of the government affect the day to day life of the citizens-influencing their behaviour in the other more official areanas of political competition such as elections. Is that a valid argument or am I way off? (Yes, that's fine; but the group may need to relate this to different types of non-democracy? - xmarquez xmarquez Mar 24, 2011)
a) Judiciary/ Court system
3. Independent judiciary widely accepted to exist, little government intervention in rulings or appointment
2. Occasional government pressure on rulings, some control in appointment of senior members
1. Large government control in appointments, threats of violence or prosecution for acts of disobedience (evidence of this occurring required), corruption exists
0. Widely accepted that the judiciary exists as a puppet of the state, widespread corruption

b) Power of the legislature
3. Legislature has unimpaired influence in law making, proclamations are followed by enforcers
2. Legislature has freedom to discuss and decree laws however the executive possesses final say in their adoption/ their application by enforcers less than universal (perhaps due to some corruption)
1. Legislature is either heavily controlled by the executive or has little real power in terms of ensuring that it's proclamations are enforced.
0. Legislature is either non existent or completly submissive to the executive.

c) Police and Civil bureaucracy, and military
3. Transparent, corruption and violence free (some may exist in small isolated instances)
2. Largely transparent, some corruption exists/issues with police violence or negligence
1. Endemic corruption and violence. Systems may be inefficient, yet still exist and fulfill some of their identified functions
0. Endemic corruption and violence with little or no fear of accountability.

d) Constitution(How do you plan to get this information? - xmarquez xmarquez Mar 24, 2011)
3. Codified constitution reinforcing seperation of executive, judiciary and legislature. Highly respected by all parties and adhered to.
2. Codified constitution but not as respected by executive with minor changes made without consent of some parties. Largely however this does not result in political opposition or abuse of the rights/responsibilities of certain parts of society.
1. Weak constitution, regularly ammended or suspended by the executive to serve their purposes.
0. Non existent or completely unenforced constitution, rampant corruption and complete control by the executive.

Final Classification
Part 1: score determines whether the state is an electoral democracy or not.

Part 2: Score between 0 and 18

A possible classification scale

Part 1 score 5-6 and part 2 score 14-18=Liberal Democracy
Part 1 score 5-6 and part 2 score 10-14 =Electoral Democracy
Part 1 score 5-6 and part 2 score 6-10 = ?
Part 1 score 5-6 and part 2 score below 6 = ?

Part 1 score 3-4 and part 2 score 14-18= Benevolent semi democracy?
Part 1 score 3-4 and part 2 score 10-14 = Pseudo democracy: existence of formally democratic political institutions, some dissent allowed, some opposition, much corruption however (Diamond)

Part 1 score 3-4 and part 2 score 10-6 = Competitive Authoritarianism
Part 1 score 3-4 and part 2 score below 6 = ?
Part 1 score below 3 and part 2 score 14-18 = Benevolent Authoritarian regime
Part 1 score below 3 and part 2 score 10-14 = Inclusionary Authoritarian regime
Part 1 score below 3 and part 2 score 6-10 = Exclusionary Authoritarian regime
Part 1 score below 3 and part 2 score below 6 = Totalitarian/Tyranic Regime

Examples of country classifications
Angola: Exclusionary Authoritarian
PT1: a=1, b=1 = 2 (non-dem)
PT2: a=1, b=1 = 2
PT3: a=1, b=1, c=1, d= 1
Papua New Guinea: Pseudo democracy
PT1: a=2, b=2 = 4 (non dem)
PT2: a=2, b=2 = 4
PT3: a=3, b=2, c=1, d=2
Austria- Liberal democracy
PT1: a=3, b=3 = 6 (demo)
PT2: a=2, b=3 = 5
PT3: a=3, b=3, c=2, d=3

And some more
Turkey: Pseudo democracy
PT1: a=2 b=2 =4 (non dem)
PT2: a=1 b=2
PT3: a=2 b=2 c=2 d=2
Russia: Competitive Authoritarianism
PT1: a=1 b=2 (non dem)
PT2: a=1 b=2
PT3: a=1 b=2 c=2 d=2