Turkey's democracy index was 5.12 in 2015 and is 5.04 for 2016. Considering the huge wave of repression happening in Turkey following the failed coup in summer 2016, and the restriction of civil liberties that goes along with a political climate hostile to democracy, I was expecting its democracy index to drop around ~2.0 or 3.0. However it only dropped very marginally.

Why didn't it drop more? Or is the 2016 result based only on data from the 1st part of the 2016 year?

  • Maybe because they only went from being under the boot of a quasi-military government to being under the boot of a fully military government?
    – Machavity
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


The democracy index is a composite score built from sixty variables organized into five dimensions. I downloaded the reports from 2015 and 2016 to compare Turkey's scores.

My summary is below:

Cropped image of table showing the five dimensions

Overall, Turkey's score dropped because of changes to their electoral process (which includes pluralism) and decreases in civil liberties.

The civil liberties score was already abysmal. The scores used in the democracy index are broad indicators, not exact measurements. These two factors combined mean that even if Turkey substantially curtailed civil liberties, that part of their score likely wouldn't change very much (because it doesn't have very far to drop, and because the measurements don't work that way). For example, the first variable is a single question "Is there a free electronic media?" Country's get 1 point if the answer is yes and 0.5 points if there does exist a free electronic media, but it is dominated by the state or a few private owners.

The electoral process score also decreased strongly. Many of the variables here have to do with the fairness of elections and pluralism. A strong decrease here matches the expectations in the question.

The functioning of government score increased a lot in this year. This largely offsets losses in the electoral process score. Why did this increase? We don't have access to the specific scorecard for individual countries. However, many of these questions are not particularly reflective of "democracy" as you might be thinking of it. For example, several of the variables here are thermometer ratings from the World Value Survey ("Do 70% or more of people have a great deal of confidence in the government?"). Additionally, questions like "Does the government's authority extend over the full territory of the country?" and "Do [special interests] exercise significant political power?" increase this score, which is perhaps not obvious from its label.

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