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Press Release: State of Democracy

Report from the London Launch (Acrobat format)

20 March 2002


International IDEA, the inter-governmental body that promotes democracy around the world, is launching a country-by-country survey of democracy and political freedom. International IDEA's 'State of Democracy' project is being kick-started by the publication on March 25 of the IDEA Handbook on Democracy Assessment, which contains pilot democratic audits of eight nations in four regions of the world.

"We can no longer simply assume that every nation that has rejected tyranny and turned towards elections is 'in transition' to democracy", says International IDEA Programme Manager Patrick Molutsi. "We need far more sophisticated tools for measuring the increasingly complex, varied and uncertain paths towards democracy that the nations of the world are taking. The 'State of Democracy' project has developed a comprehensive assessment tool that the citizens of all democracies in the world can use to assess the functioning of their own democratic systems. We at International IDEA - and among our 19 member-states - believe that we have created a robust and universal way of measuring democracy that can provide the foundations for a world-wide survey."

Molutsi says that the eight pilot studies - undertaken by in-country teams of assessors in Bangladesh, El Salvador, Italy, Kenya, Malawi, New Zealand, Peru and South Korea - prove the validity of IDEA's methodology for assessing democratisation. "The assessments are aimed at raising public awareness, sparking discussions and helping identify areas for reform. The project does not place countries in a ranking order, but rather focuses on progress or setbacks experienced by democracies around the world."

International IDEA will now expand its assessment programme to cover every region in the world over the next two years. In addition, according to Molutsi independently conducted audits using the International IDEA assessment tool have been initiated in Australia, Canada, Russia and South Africa. "And in a number of other countries, notably Chile, Moldova and Sri Lanka", he continues, "civil society organizations have informed us that they want to use the assessment tool for civic education projects."

Molutsi stresses that International IDEA's programme is intended to cover both eveloped and developing countries. "There is disenchantment with the quality of democracy in all the democracies of the world. Established democracies need to audit their democratic arrangements and to learn from democratising nations like South Africa if we are to achieve the world-wide democratisation that is our goal."

The Handbook, published by Kluwer Law International, was launched in London on 20 March.

The London launch included a seminar at which a panel of experts in democratic reform in the UK and abroad will discuss the issues contained in the handbook.

Review of the Handbook in the The Guardian (UK), 19 March 2002.

Wednesday 20 March from 10:30am-12:30pm
Macmillan Room, 1st floor, Portcullis House (above Westminster Tube Station, entrance on Embankment)

Chair: Dr Tony Wright MP


Professor Stuart Weir (co-author of the Handbook)
Professor Joni Lovenduski (Birkbeck College)
Professor Paul Hirst (Charter88)

Places at the launch are strictly limited. To reserve a place, or find out more about the handbook contact Andrew Holden at Charter88 on 020 8880 6084/

For further information about International IDEA contact:

Mark Salter,
Senior Information Officer,
International IDEA
Tel: + 46 8 698 3714

Notes to editors and journalists:

1. International IDEA is an inter-governmental organisation, based in Sweden, which currently has 19 member states and four associate members (International Press Institute, Parliamentarians for Global Action, the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights and Transparency International).

2. Charter88 is the only organisation in the UK campaigning for comprehensive democratic reform. Our website can be found at


The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) exists to nurture, sustain and promote democracy around the world. Global in membership and scope, independent of specific national interests, and quick in its response, International IDEA is an intergovernmental organization with a unique mandate - to support the growth of genuine, sustainable democracy.



International IDEA
Tel: +46 8 698 3700, Fax: +46 8 20 24 22
International IDEA, Strömsborg, S-103 34 Stockholm, Sweden