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The International IDEA Handbook on Democracy Assessment is a robust and sensitive guide to assessing the quality of democracy and human rights in any country around the world. The Handbook introduces an easy-to-use and universal methodology for assessing the condition of democracy in any country, or its progress in democratisation, that has been developed in a three-year action programme at IDEA, the inter-governmental Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Sweden.
The Handbook provides a means to measure systematically the full range of values, institutions and issues relating to modern democracy that is sensitive to the underlying principles and democracy and the differences between democracies themselves. It is therefore both universal in application and capable of responding to particular aspects of any one nation's democratic arrangements. The animating principle of the Handbook is that only citizens of a nation themselves are qualified to assess the quality of their own democratic arrangements. Thus, it provides a self-help guide, which gives academics, lawyers, political practitioners, journalists and interested citizens the tools to assess the state of their democracy, or any key aspects of their democracy.
The Handbook is above all a practical working document that draws on the actual experience of assessing democracy in different countries, comparative knowledge and research, and democratic principles and practice. It gives a step-by-step guide to the purposes and methods of democracy assessment; who to involve; how to use the research tools; how to validate the findings; what standards of practice to adopt; and how to present and publicise a finished assessment. It contains extracts from completed assessments, guidance on the use of qualitative and quantitative data, examples of codes of democratic practice and international and regional standards, and a vast list of accessible data sources.
The methodology was created by a team of political scientists assembled from all regions of the world by International IDEA and has been tried and tested in a variety of countries, including Bangladesh, El Salvador, Italy, Kenya, Malawi, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea and the United Kingdom. International organisations like the World Bank and UNECA are adapting it for in-country use. The four main authors and editors have been directly involved from the inception of the project - in developing and refining the methodology and participating in and advising on the nine country studies that form the essential practical core of experience on which this invaluable Handbook is based.