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Assessing the Quality of Democracy: Freedom, Competitiveness and Participation in Eighteen Latin American Countries

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This article explores the problem of conceptualising and measuring the quality of democracy in Latin America. The first part discusses the use of the concept and the need for an operational measure. It explores three dimensions of the quality of democracy: civil rights, participation and effective competition. The second part develops an indicator of effective competition, one of the key dimensions of the concept. The third part analyses the empirical relationship between all three dimensions in 18 Latin American countries between 1978 and 1996. The study constructs summary measures of the quality of democracy in several ways, and show that the ranking of the cases is highly consistent no matter the procedure applied. The final section tests the validity of the measure and discusses its limitations.

Keywords: Latin America; civil rights; effective competition; participation; quality of democracy; validity

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2002

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