Applying the Freedom House Index and the Bertelsmann Transformation Index in an analysis of democracy in Bulgaria In the current paper we will first take a brief look at what exactly do the Freedom House (FH) Index and the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) measure. Then we will concentrate on: what place does Bulgaria have in each of these indexes; to what can the discrepancies, between the indexes, be attributed; how exactly has the democracy evolved and other specifics of the socio-economic as well as political situation in Bulgaria in the light of these two widely accepted indexes. Let us first look at the FH Index.
We must start by pointing out that it: “does not rate governments or government performance per se, but rather the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals”. This means, that the only issue measured by this index, is the people’s freedom defined as “the opportunity to act spontaneously in a variety of fields outside the control of the government and other centers of potential domination”. There have been some changes in the index methodology through the years, but these have been, especially in the last several years, modest changes concerning some very specific details about the methods of measuring.
That is why we’ll concentrate on the latest methodology – the one that was used in the making of the 2005 Report. In it, the freedom to act is measured by following a checklist of two categories: 10 political rights questions (grouped into three subcategories) and 15 civil liberties questions (grouped into four subcategories), and awarding the country on each of these questions from 0 to 4 points. According to these points countries are given scores from 1 through 7. Countries with ratings from 1. 0 to 2. 5 are labeled Free, from 3. 0 to 5.
0 Partly Free and from 5. 5 to 7. 0 Not Free. (http://www. freedomhouse. org/research/freeworld/2004/methodology. htm) The BTI on the other hand, measures: “the current state of democracy and market economy in a given country, its evolution over the past five years and the quality of governance performed by its leadership”. In performing this task, the BTI index uses two other indexes: the Status Index and the Management Index. The Management index will not be considered in our work, but we’ll pay detailed attention to the Status Index.
The Status Index of each country is calculated as the mean of two other sub-indexes: Economic Transformation (based on level of socioeconomic development, organization of the market and competition, currency and price stability, private property, welfare regime, economic performance and sustainability) and Political Transformation (consisting of: stateness, political participation, rule of law, stability of democratic institutions and political and social integration). (http://www. bertelsmann-transformation-index. de/4. 0. html? ;L=0;L=1; http://www.bertelsmann-transformation-index. de/37. 0. html? ;L=1)
This brief look at the two indexes shows us that they are measuring quite different things and that is why we expect differences between the ratings offered by each index to appear. An important fact is that BTI offers absolute ranking while FH just assigns countries to different categories. Theoretically, BTI should provide a better measure for the country. As we can see BTI reports consider a wider specter of factors and in fact take a much closer look at the situation within the country.
Sometimes FH reports get into details that are not present on the BTI reports but this would be an exception, when certain cases of infringements of human rights are observed, and not a rule. The major trends in the FH Index issued to Bulgaria can be seen in Table 1 (see Appendix). As it can be observed, the period from 1974 to 1989, when communism ruled in Bulgaria, is marked with the lowest possible scores. After that however we see marked improvement.
Although the first stable government that managed to remain in office for a full term, after the fall of communism, was elected in mid-1997 (the decline in the rating from 2 in 1993-1995 to 2. 5 in 1996 can be explained exactly by these unstable governments) Bulgaria by that time gets a score of 2 in Political Rights and 3 on the Civil Liberties category meaning that it is classified as a Free country. The problems that persist are most of all related to the media dependence, the judiciary system, some worship restrictions and the women being underrepresented in government.