The Quality of Democracy: Freedom as the Foundation

Issue Date October 2004
Volume 15
Issue 4
Page Numbers 61-75
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The paper begins by exploring the conceptual links between freedom, rights and democracy, and the institutional arrangements necessary to guarantee civil and political rights and fundamental freedoms in a democracy. It then sets out a procedure for assessing the quality of a country’s democracy in four successive steps: defining the appropriate democratic ‘goods’; identifying standards of best practice as a benchmark for the attainment of each of these ‘goods’; analyzing the typical modes of subversion which may prevent their attainment; and exploring possible agencies of protection against these subversions. After applying each of these steps to the subject of civil and political rights, the paper concludes with a reservation about the limits of purely institutional indicators.

About the Author

David Beetham is professor emeritus at the University of Leeds and fellow of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. As associate director of the U.K. Democratic Audit, he has contributed to developing methodologies for democracy assessment of both established and transitional democracies. His latest book is Democracy: A Beginner’s Guide (2005).

View all work by David Beetham