The Democracy Barometer is based on a middle-range concept of democracy, embracing liberal as well as participatory ideas of democracy.
Using three core principles of liberal and participatory democracy, we deduced nine functions. The degrees of fulfilment of these nine functions are defined by two components each that are themselves measured by different theoretically deduced subcomponents and indicators.
A democratic system tries to establish a good balance between the normative, interdependent values of freedom and equality, and that this requires control.
Freedom refers to the absence of heteronomy, and freedom rights are above all rights which protect an individual from infringements by the state. Historically, the most important of these rights under a secure rule of law have become one of the minimal conditions for democratic regimes.
The principle freedom comprises the three functions: individual liberites, rule of law, and public sphere.
Individual liberties primarily secure the inviolability of the private sphere. This requires the right to physical integrity (component 1) and the right to free conduct of life (component 2).
Rule of law designates the independence, the primacy, and the absolute warrant of and by the law. This requires equality before the law (component 1) and a good quality of the legal system (component 2).
Public sphere comprises the rights to take part with others in expressing opinions and seeking to persuade and mobilise support. This is ensured by the freedom of association (component 1) and the freedom of opinion (component 2).
Control, serves to equilibrate the unstable balance between Freedom and Equality. However, control has two different meanings in democracies. On the one hand, citizens ought to control their representatives in the government in order to secure freedom and equality. This control can be exercised vertically by means of elections or horizontally by constitutional checks and balances. On the other hand, responsive governments must be able to act, which requires a certain amount of autonomy. The executive should be limited by the democratic process and jurisdiction.
The principle control comprises the three functions: competition, mutual constraints, and governmental capability.
Competition Vertical control of the government is free, regular, and competitive election. This requires the two components of democratic competition vulnerability (component 1) andcontestability (component 2).
Mutual contraints of constitutional powers encompass the horizontal and institutional dimension of control of the government. This depends on the relationship between the executive and the legislature (component 1) and additional checks of powers (component 2).
Governmental capability ensures a responsive implementation. This requires the availability of resources (component 1) and the conditions for an efficient implementation (component 2).
Equality - particularly understood as political equality - means that all citizens are treated as equals in the political process, have equal rights to influence decision-making and have equal access to political power.
The principle equality comprises the three functions: transparency, participation, and representation.
Transparency means no secrecy (component 1) and the existence of provisions for a transparent political process (component 2).
Participation, understood as equality of participation, implies that citizens must have equal participation rights: all persons who are affected by a political decision should have the right to participate in shaping that decision. This requires equality of participation (component 1) and the effective use of participation (component 2).
Representation ensures the right of all citizens to co-determination, i.e. all citizens’ preferences are adequately represented in the political decision making process. This requires substantive representation (component 1) and descriptive representation (component 2).
The spider graphs represent the nine democracy functions (Individual Liberties, Rule of Law, Public Sphere, Competition, Mutual Constraints, Governmental Capability, Transparency, Participation and Representation) upon which the democracy concept of the Democracy Barometer relies.
The graphs provide the possibility to highlight the strenghts and the weaknesses of a specific country with respect to the nine democracy functions in 2014 in comparison to the mean of all other countries in the same year.
Legend: (Principles and Functions)
Principle: Freedom: RL (Rule of Law), IL (Individual Liberties), PS (Public Sphere).
Control: GC (Governmental Capability), MC (Mutual Constraints), CO (Competition).
Equality: TR (Transparency), PAR (Participation), REP (Representation).