This indicator measures country performance on the quality of the electoral process, political pluralism and participation, government corruption and transparency, and fair political treatment of ethnic groups.
Countries are rated on the following factors:
- free and fair executive and legislative elections; fair polling; honest tabulation of ballots;
- fair electoral laws; equal campaigning opportunities;
- the right to organize in different political parties and political groupings; the openness of the political system to the rise and fall of competing political parties and groupings;
- the existence of a significant opposition vote; the existence of a de facto opposition power, and a realistic possibility for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections;
- the participation of cultural, ethnic, religious, or other minority groups in political life;
- freedom from domination by the military, foreign powers, totalitarian parties, religious hierarchies, economic oligarchies, or any other powerful group in making personal political choices; and
- the openness, transparency, and accountability of the government to its constituents between elections; freedom from pervasive government corruption; government policies that reflect the will of the people.
Relationship to Growth & Poverty Reduction
Although the relationship between democracy and economic growth is complex, research suggests that the institutional structures of democracy can promote growth by increasing policy stability, cultivating higher rates of human capital accumulation, reducing levels of income inequality and corruption, and encouraging higher rates of investment. 1 The links between political rights and poverty reduction are similarly complicated, but there is evidence that democratic institutions are better at reducing economic volatility and provide a more consistent approach to poverty reduction than do autocratic regimes. 2 Research also links the incentive structure of democratic institutions with outcomes favorable for the poor. 3
The Political Rights indicator is based on a team of expert analysts and scholars evaluating countries using a ten question checklist grouped into the three subcategories: Electoral Process (3 questions), Political Pluralism and Participation (4 questions), and Functioning of Government (3 questions). Points are awarded to each question on a scale of 0 to 4, where 0 points represents the fewest rights and 4 represents the most rights. The highest number of points that can be awarded to the Political Rights checklist is 40 (or a total of up to 4 points for each of the 10 questions). There is also an additional, discretionary, political rights question which can subtract up to 4 points from a country’s score. The full list of questions included in Freedom House’s methodology may be found at: https://freedomhouse.org/reports/freedom-world/freedom-world-research-methodology.
In consultation with Freedom House, MCC considers countries with scores above 17 to be passing this indicator.
Freedom House publishes a 1-7 scale (where 7 is “least free” and 1 is “most free”) for Political Rights. Since its Freedom in the World 2006 report, Freedom House has also released data using a 0-40 scale for Political Rights (where 0 is “least free” and 40 is “most free”). Table 1 illustrates how the 1-7 scale used prior to Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07) corresponds to the new 0-40 scale.
|New Scale||Old Scale|
MCC adjusts the years on the x-axis of the Country Scorecards to correspond to the period of time covered by the Freedom in the World publication. For instance, FY21 Political Rights data come from Freedom in the World 2020 and are labeled as 2019 data on the scorecard (the year Freedom House is reporting on in its 2020 report.)