Empirical Dimensions of Electoral Democracy

51 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2020

See all articles by Matthew C. Wilson

Matthew C. Wilson

University of Gothenburg - V-Dem Institute; University of South Carolina

Vanessa Alexandra Boese

University of Gothenburg - V-Dem Institute

Date Written: September 2020


This paper investigates conceptual ambiguities concerning the dimensionality of democracy and what it can tell us about political development. We explore variation in components of the Electoral Democracy Index from the Varieties of Democracy Project and evaluate the strength of their relationships to democratization and democratic stability. Factor analysis of these indicators reveals three latent dimensions that have different impacts on regime change. Regimes with greater levels of civic freedoms are associated with an increased likelihood of democratic transition and stability, whereas regimes in which suffrage was most predominant are among the least democratic. The three dimensions show noteworthy trends over time and space and constitute patterns that support conclusions about \paths to polyarchy" (Dahl 1971). The results challenge the notion that electoral democracy is two-dimensional and promote, instead, civic freedoms, vote quality, and suffrage as three distinct dimensions.

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Matthew C. and Boese, Vanessa Alexandra, Empirical Dimensions of Electoral Democracy (September 2020). V-Dem Working Paper 109, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3701591 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3701591

Matthew C. Wilson (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg - V-Dem Institute ( email )

United States

University of South Carolina ( email )

701 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

Vanessa Alexandra Boese

University of Gothenburg - V-Dem Institute ( email )


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