The Lexical Index of Democracy first described in Skaaning, Svend-Erik; John Gerring; and Henrikas Bartusevičius (2015). "A Lexical Index of Electoral Democracy." Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 48, No. 12, pp. 1491-1525. Original data and variable descriptions available at https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.7910/DVN/WPKNIT. The dataset is now on version 6.4, and contains new variables. The documentation below is copied from their codebook, with some small additions for clarification purposes.

LIED

Format

An object of class tbl_df (inherits from tbl, data.frame) with 32345 rows and 26 columns.

Source

Skaaning, Svend-Erik; John Gerring; and Henrikas Bartusevičius (2015). "A Lexical Index of Electoral Democracy." Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 48, No. 12, pp. 1491-1525. Original data and variable descriptions available at https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.7910/DVN/WPKNIT

Description of the Construction of LIED

To code the lexical index we make use of five variables developed initially in the Political Institutions and Events (PIPE) dataset (Przeworski et al. 2013): LEGSELEC, EXSELEC, OPPOSITION, MALE SUFFRAGE, and FEMALE SUFFRAGE. Since PIPE does not attempt to measure the quality of elections, we generate a sixth variable: COMPETITION. All variables are binary, coded 1 if the following circumstances obtain, and 0 otherwise.

lied_country

The country name used in the original dataset. 2 country-years were repeated in the original data and have been dropped.

lied_cow

The COW country code used in the original dataset.

vdem

The V-Dem country code.

year

Calendar year.

legselec

A legislative body issues at least some laws and does not perform executive functions. The lower house (or unicameral chamber) of the legislature is at least partly elected. The legislature has not been closed.

exselec

The chief executive is either directly or indirectly elected (i.e., chosen by people who have been elected)

opposition

The lower house (or unicameral chamber) of the legislature is (at least in part) elected by voters facing more than one choice. Specifically, parties are not banned and (a) more than one party is allowed to compete or (b) elections are nonpartisan (i.e., all candidates run without party labels)

male_suffrage

Virtually all male citizens are allowed to vote in national elections. Legal restrictions pertaining to age, criminal conviction, incompetence, and local residency are not considered. Informal restrictions such as those obtaining in the American South prior to 1965 are also not considered.

female_suffrage

Virtually all female citizens are allowed to vote in national elections. Similar coding rules apply.

competition

The chief executive offices and seats in the effective legislative body are filled by elections characterized by uncertainty (see Przeworski 2000: 16- 17), meaning that the elections are, in principle, sufficiently free to enable the opposition to gain power if they were to attract sufficient support from the electorate. This presumes that control over key executive and legislative offices is determined by elections, the executive and members of the legislature have not been unconstitutionally removed, and the legislature has not been dissolved. With respect to the electoral process, this presumes that the constitutional timing of elections has not been violated (in a more than marginal fashion), non-extremist parties are not banned, opposition candidates are generally free to participate, voters experience little systematic coercion in exercising their electoral choice, and electoral fraud does not determine who wins. With respect to the outcome, this presumes that the declared winner of executive and legislative elections reflects the votes cast by the electorate, as near as can be determined from extant sources. Incumbent turnover (as a result of multi-party elections) is regarded as a strong indicator of competition, but is neither necessary nor sufficient. In addition, we rely on reports from outside observers (as reported in books, articles, and country reports) about whether the foregoing conditions have been met in a given election (see Svolik 2012: 24). Coding for this variable does not take into account whether there is a level playing field, whether all contestants gain access to funding and media, whether media coverage is unbiased, whether civil liberties are respected, or other features associated with fully free and fair elections. COMPETITION thus sets a modest threshold.

lexical_index

To generate the lexical index from these six binary variables, a country-year is assigned the highest score (L0-6) for which it fulfills all requisite criteria, as follows:

L0: LEGSELEC=0 & EXSELEC=0.

L1: LEGSELEC=1 or EXSELEC=1.

L2: LEGSELEC=1 & OPPOSITION=1.

L3: LEGSELEC=1 & OPPOSITION=1 & EXSELEC=1.

L4: LEGSELEC=1 & OPPOSITION=1 & EXSELEC=1 & COMPETITION=1.

L5: LEGSELEC=1 & OPPOSITION=1 & EXSELEC=1 & COMPETITION=1 & (MALE SUFFRAGE=1 or FEMALE SUFFRAGE=1).

L6: LEGSELEC=1 & OPPOSITION=1 & EXSELEC=1 & COMPETITION=1 & MALE SUFFRAGE=1 & FEMALE SUFFRAGE=1.

In a small number of cases, the resulting index appears to have been incorrectly constructed:

## # A tibble: 14 x 4
##    lied_country  year lexical_index lexical_index_original
##    <chr>        <dbl>         <dbl>                  <dbl>
##  1 Newfoundland  1925             6                      4
##  2 Newfoundland  1926             6                      4
##  3 Newfoundland  1927             6                      4
##  4 Newfoundland  1928             6                      4
##  5 Newfoundland  1929             6                      4
##  6 Newfoundland  1930             6                      4
##  7 Newfoundland  1931             6                      4
##  8 Newfoundland  1932             6                      4
##  9 Somalia       1960             6                      5
## 10 Somalia       1961             6                      5
## 11 Somalia       1962             6                      5
## 12 Somalia       1963             6                      5
## 13 Sudan         1964             1                      0
## 14 Cambodia      1946             2                      0

I've recalculated the index for these cases and put the original value in the lexical_index_original variable.

political_liberties

Freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association are respected. All groups, which are not openly anti-democratic, are allowed to organize freely and to assemble peacefully, and free speech, including critique of government and state-authorities, is tolerated and practiced freely by individuals and groups, including private as well as public media outlets. 1=present, 0=absent.

lexical_index_plus

This index, LIED+, adds an extra layer to the upper-end of LIED in the form of political liberties. This is done to distinguish between electoral democracies and polyarchies. The meaning of the scores from 0 to 5 are identical to LIED, whereas 6 and 7 refer to the following configurations of indicator values:

L6: legislative_elections=1 & multi-party_legislative_elections=1 & executive_elections=1 & competitive_elections=1 & male_suffrage=1 & female_suffrage=1 & political_liberties=0 (regime type: electoral democracies)

L7: legislative_elections=1 & multi-party_legislative_elections=1 & executive_elections=1 & competitive_elections=1 & male_suffrage=1 & female_suffrage=1 & political_liberties=1 (regime type: polyarchies)

democratic_transition

Indicates whether a democratic transition took place in a given year as signified by a change in the competitive_elections indicator from 0 in the previous year to 1 in the current year. 1=present, 0=absent.

transition_type

For all country-years with democratic transitions, we have coded the mode of transition based on a distinction between: 1=conversion (incumbent-led), 2=cooperative (pact between incumbents and opposition/balanced influence), 3=collapse (opposition-led), 4=foreign supervision (imposition by foreign power based on intervention or highly asymmetrical – partial or full – decolonization), 5=foreign liberalization (democracy reemerges after occupational power has lost war to foreign powers). Country-years without democratic transitions are scored 0.

democratic_breakdown

Indicates whether a democratic breakdown took place in a given year as signified by a change in competitive_elections indicator from 1 in the previous year to 0 in the current year. 1=present, 0=absent.

breakdown_type

For all country-years with democratic transitions, we have coded the mode of transition based on a distinction between: 1=implicit regression induced by incumbents, 2=military coup, 3=foreign occupation, 4=self-coup (incumbents close down parliament unduly and take full political control), 5=coup or civil conflict headed by opposition party/movement, 6=coup headed by monarch. Country-years without democratic breakdowns are scored 0.

turnover_period

Indicates whether a particular country-year is part of a period between an initial electoral government alternation (as indicated by a turnover event, see below) in a multi-party electoral regime and an interruption of the same multi-party electoral regime (as indicated by a score of 0 on executive elections or multi-party_legislative_elections, see above). If another turnover event happens later in the same polity, a new turnover period begins. 1=present, 0=absent.

turnover_event

Indicates whether partisan control over government power alternated from an elected chief executive to another party/coalition/candidate representing the opposition as a consequence of a multi-party election in a particular country-year. Multi-party legislative and (direct or indirect) executive elections are considered necessary conditions for a genuine turnover. 1=present, 0=absent.

two_turnover_period

Indicates whether a particular country-year is part of a period between a second electoral government alternation (as indicated by a turnover event, see below) in a multi-party electoral regime and an interruption of the same multi-party electoral regime (as indicated by a score of 0 on executive elections or multi-party_legislative_elections, see above). If two turnover events happens later in the same polity under a new multi_party electoral regime, a new two-turnover period begins. 1=present, 0=absent.

sovereign

Indicates whether a polity/country is a separate unit in the international system of states (1) or subjected to foreign colonization or occupation with formal loss of autonomy (0).

Standard descriptive variables (generated by this package)

extended_country_name

The name of the country in the Gleditsch-Ward system of states, or the official name of the entity (for non-sovereign entities and states not in the Gleditsch and Ward system of states) or else a common name for disputed cases that do not have an official name (e.g., Western Sahara, Hyderabad). The Gleditsch and Ward scheme sometimes indicates the common name of the country and (in parentheses) the name of an earlier incarnation of the state: thus, they have Germany (Prussia), Russia (Soviet Union), Madagascar (Malagasy), etc. For details, see Gleditsch, Kristian S. & Michael D. Ward. 1999. "Interstate System Membership: A Revised List of the Independent States since 1816." International Interactions 25: 393-413. The list can be found at http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~ksg/statelist.html.

GWn

Gleditsch and Ward's numeric country code, from the Gleditsch and Ward list of independent states.

cown

The Correlates of War numeric country code, 2016 version. This differs from Gleditsch and Ward's numeric country code in a few cases. See http://www.correlatesofwar.org/data-sets/state-system-membership for the full list.

in_GW_system

Whether the state is "in system" (that is, is independent and sovereign), according to Gleditsch and Ward, for this particular date. Matches at the end of the year; so, for example South Vietnam 1975 is FALSE because, according to Gleditsch and Ward, the country ended on April 1975 (being absorbed by North Vietnam). It is also TRUE for dates beyond 2012 for countries that did not end by then, depsite the fact that the Gleditsch and Ward list has not been updated since.

Deviations from PIPE

The LIED compilers state that:

Although we employ PIPE as an initial source for coding LEGSELEC, EXSELEC, OPPOSITION, MALE SUFFRAGE, and FEMALE SUFFRAGE, we deviate from PIPE--based on our reading of country specific sources--in several ways. First, with respect to executive elections, in the PIPE dataset "Prime ministers are always coded as elected if the legislature is open." However, for our purposes we need an indicator that also takes into account whether the government is responsible to an elected parliament if the executive is not directly elected--a situation generated by a number of European monarchies prior to World War I, by episodes of international supervision such as Bosnia-Herzegovina in the first years following the civil war, and by some monarchies in the Middle East and elsewhere (e.g., Liechtenstein, Monaco, and Tonga) in the contemporary era. To illustrate, PIPE codes Denmark as having executive elections from 1849 to 1900 although the parliamentary principle was not established until 1901. Before then, the government was accountable to the king. Among the current cases with elected multiparty legislatures not fulfilling this condition, we find Jordan and Morocco. In order to achieve a higher level of concept-measure consistency, we have thus recoded all country-years (based on country-specific accounts) for this variable where our sources suggested doing so.

We also conduct original coding for countries whose coding is incomplete in PIPE and for additional countries such as the German principalities that are not covered in PIPE. In this fashion, we generate a complete dataset for all six variables covering all independent countries of the world in the period under study (1800-2013 or 1789-2019 for v. 5.2). Whereas the numbers of observations for the PIPE variables range between 14,465 and 15,302, our dataset provides 18,142 observations for all variables. Except for minor adjustments regarding executive elections (mentioned above), this additional coding follows the rules laid out in the PIPE codebook. Coding decisions are based on country-specific sources that are too numerous to specify. In rare instances we stumbled upon information that required a re-coding of PIPE variables, so the two datasets do not correspond exactly.

Countries are coded across these conditions for the length of their sovereign existence within the 1800-2013 (1789-2019 for v. 5.2) timespan, generating a dataset with 221 countries. To identify independent countries we rely on Gleditsch (2013) and Correlates of War (2011), supplemented from 1800 to 1815 by various country-specific sources. Importantly, electoral democracy does not presume complete sovereignty. A polity may be constrained in its actions by other states, by imperial control (as over a colony), by international treaties, or by world markets. Thus, to say that a polity is an electoral democracy is to say that it functions as such for policies over which it enjoys decisionmaking power. Scores for each indicator reflect the status of a country on the last day of the calendar year (31 December) and are not intended to reflect the mean value of an indicator across the previous 364 days.