The e-Parliament’s first ever Election Index, which gives points out of twelve for the democratic credentials of parliamentary elections worldwide, has been launched in an international videoconference.
The 2008-09 e-Parliament Election Index
Map of the findings
Instructions on how to view the videoconference
“This index for the first time enables everyone to assess at a glance the quality of their parliamentary elections compared to others,” said Graham Watson MEP, Chair of the e-Parliament and the European Liberal candidate for the Presidency of the European Parliament, “It will therefore be of great interest to everyone concerned about human rights and the spread of democracy around the world – and not least to people whose governments could be doing better.
“I am interested, for example, in the scores of countries in the Far East. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan get 12 points but then the highest marks after that are Indonesia and Timor-Leste with 9. China and North Korea get a single point each.
“I hope that the Index will give people in each country a sense of how they are doing relative to others and will encourage governments to improve their electoral practices – where improvements are needed.”
The e-Parliament Election Index was conceived by a group of democracy experts at an international parliamentary hearing in Indonesia in late 2007 and researched and authored by M. Steven Fish, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.
In collaboration with experts in all regions of the world, Professor Fish scored national parliaments on three democratic criteria: freedom of candidate participation; fairness of voter registration, voting procedures and vote count; and freedom of expression in electoral campaigns.
A maximum of four points for each criteria means that the highest possible score for each country is 12 points.
The Secretary-General of the e-Parliament, Nicholas Dunlop, welcomed the Index. “In the past you’d hear on the news that a particular election had been controversial – with allegations of vote-rigging or intimidation or miscounts, but to the outsider it was always very difficult to know just how good or bad the situation was. By giving each country a score out of 12, this becomes clearer.
“This index proves that democracy is not just linked to economic development. It’s striking that several African countries score higher than some EU countries. If countries like Ghana, Benin and Liberia, with all their economic problems, can do so well, then other countries should be able to do the same.”
This is a thought that is echoed by Steven Fish, who wrote the report with input from independent experts from all over the world.
“Angola held a dreadfully bad election in 2008 – despite high hopes, interminable planning and considerable international pressure. The country therefore scored three points for freedom of candidate participation; one for fairness of voter registration, voting procedures and vote count; and one for freedom of expression in the electoral campaign – making five in total.
“Hopefully politicians in Angola will see their score and resolve to improve on it next time. Wouldn’t it be great if we could establish this index so that it could provide another incentive for open politics – and specifically for the concrete, vitally important matter of good hygiene in legislative elections?”
The report will be formally launched by the e-Parliament using the unusual method of an international videoconference between 1600 and 1800 London time. Professor Fish, Nicholas Dunlop and Graham Watson MEP will respond to questions from journalists who are to gather at videoconferencing studios in Delhi, Munich, Brussels, London, Johannesburg and San Francisco.
SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS
Western European and North American countries - including Mexico - scored 12 points.
Electoral procedure is not so strong in Eastern Europe. Russia scored 5 points; Georgia 6; Macedonia and Moldova 8; Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzogovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Romania 9; Serbia and Turkey 10; Bulgaria, Croatia and Ukraine 11.
A number of African countries do better. Cape Verde, Ghana, Mauritius, and South Africa all excel in the African region by scoring 12 points. Benin scored 11 and Liberia 10.
Elections appear strong in Central and South America with no country scoring under Guatemala’s 8.
Kuwait, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories all score 9 points. Excluding Israel, no other country in the Middle East scores higher than this. Iran and Iraq both score 6.
China achieves 1 point (one out of four for freedom of candidate participation).
52 countries out of the total 174 achieve the maximum score of 12.
9 countries (Brunei, Eritrea, Libya, Myanmar, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Turkmenistan) score 0.
We are hoping to provide a weblink so that the launch can be followed online. For instructions please click here.
The e-Parliament is an international forum which exists to spread and implement good ideas for legislation among the world’s democratic legislators. Please visit the website at www.e-parl.net
The e-Parliament would like to thank BT for the use of their videoconferencing systems.For more information about the BT Unified Communications Video System please consult: http://www.globalservices.bt.com/gbl/en/products/Unified_Communications_Video
Steve Fish is also the author with Matthew Kroenig of The Handbook of National Legislatures: A Global Survey published by Cambridge University Press.
For more information, please contact Jasper Bouverie on +44-1233-812037 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.