Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Slip sliding away

According to Freedom House, here's what has happened to Moldovan democracy during the Communist's two terms in power. '1' is the best score (think Finland) while '7' is the worst (think North Korea).

After a rapid decline during the first term a degree of stablisation was achieved (probably due to the 10-point plan negotiated with the PPCD in 2005). Recently, however, the downwards slide has resumed.

The 5.07 score from 2009 is pretty atrocious when you consider that the Baltics (which started from the same place in 1991) all have scores around the '2' mark. Here's the descriptive text for a score of 5.07:

5.00-5.99 Semi-Consolidated Authoritarian Regimes

Countries receiving a Democracy Score of 5.00-5.99 attempt to mask authoritarianism with limited respect for the institutions and practices of democracy. They typically fail to meet even the minimum standards of electoral democracy.

While national elections may be held at regular intervals and contested by opposition parties and candidates, they are marred by irregularities and deemed undemocratic by international observers. Public resources and state employees are used to guarantee incumbent victories. Political power may change hands, yet turnovers in the executive are well orchestrated and may fail to reflect voter preferences.

Power is highly centralized, and national and local levels of government are neither democratic nor accountable to citizens. Meaningful checks on executive power do not exist, and stability is achieved by undemocratic means.

Space for independent civil society is narrow. While governments encourage nongovernmental organizations that perform important social functions, they are hostile to groups that challenge state policy. Institutional weaknesses and insufficient funding, save international support, also contribute to the limited impact of politically oriented groups.

While independent media exist, they operate under government pressure and risk harassment for reporting that is critical of the regime. Investigative reporting on corruption and organized crime is especially risky. Harsh libel laws sustain a culture of self-censorship. Most media, particularly
radio and television, are controlled or co-opted by the state.

The judiciary is restrained in its ability to act independently of the executive, and equality before the law is not guaranteed. The judiciary is frequently co-opted as a tool to silence opposition figures and has limited ability to protect the basic rights and liberties of citizens.

State involvement in the economic sector is sizable and corruption is wide-spread. Efforts to combat corruption are usually politically motivated.

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