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Regimes In the World (RIW): A Robust Regime Type Measure based on V-Dem

Working paper
Authors Anna Lührmann
Staffan I Lindberg
Marcus Tannenberg
Publisher University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 47. May 2017
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2017
Published at Quality of Government Institute (QoG)
Department of Political Science
V-Dem Institute
Language en
Subject categories Political Science


Classifying political regimes has never been as difficult as in this day and age. Most regimes in the world now hold de-jure multiparty elections with universal suffrage. Yet, in some countries these elections ensure that political rulers are – at least somewhat – accountable to the electorate whereas in others they are a mere window dressing exercise for authoritarian politics. Hence, regime types need to be distinguished based on the de-facto implementation of democratic rules. To this end, researchers increasingly turn to expert-coded data sets such as the new Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) dataset. Using V-Dem data, we propose an operationalization of four important regime types – closed and electoral autocracies; electoral and liberal democracies – with vast coverage (almost all countries form 1900 to 2016) and precision. Our new Regimes in the World (RIW) measure includes uncertainty estimates to identify countries in the grey zone between regime types and account for inter-coder disagreement. In cases of disagreement with other datasets (7-12% of the cases), we classify regimes with severe electoral manipulation and infringements of the political freedoms more frequently as electoral autocracies than other datasets, which suggests that our measure captures the opaqueness of contemporary autocracies better.

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