Strengths and Weaknesses of Freedom House’s Methodology

Though rating systems are subjective, Freedom in the World Methodology has created an in-depth process to rate every country based on a large array of news reports and different analyses. The most impressive extent to their research includes “more than 60 analysts and nearly 30 advisors. . . the analysts’ proposed scores are discussed and defended.” With so many analysts and advisors, the system has checks and balances to create a fair rating, but there are some biases.

Both the Freedom in the World and Freedom House articles indicate that a democratic regime is better than any other type of system. Though this view is controversial, especially in Freedom in the World’s phrase “lack of democratic governance creates an enabling environment for terrorism”, there is a larger issue at hand. Both articles give two different definitions of democracy, leading to flawed system for rating the Freedom House Article. While the Freedom House talks of an electoral democracy, the Freedom in the World identifies a liberal democracy. The term democracy means very different things to different people. Cuba, for example, has been ridiculed over the past decades for having a non-democratic state, but Cubans offer that they have more rights than Americans when it comes to democracy. Secretary of State John Kerry reported a strained relationship with the U.S. and Cuba because of Cuba’s form of government. The Foreign Minister of Cuba “defended Cuba at a news conference with Kerry and criticized the United States’ own record on rights, referring to racial strife and police brutality in America.” William Blum’s article further talks about the issue with America’s version of democracy, “numerous pronouncements emanating from Washington officialdom over the years make plain that ‘democracy’, at best, or at most, is equated solely with elections and civil liberties. Not even jobs, food and shelter are part of the equation.” There is no correct definition for democracy, but when rating another article the qualifications need to be the same. Though the Freedom in the World tries to get around this statement by “asses(sing) the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals, rather than the governments or government performance per se”, they put too much emphasis on a liberal democracies.

Articles:

Blum, William. “The United States, Cuba and This Thing Called Democracy.” Dec. 2005. Web. <http://williamblum.org/essays/read/the-united-states-cuba-and-this-thing-called-democracy&gt;.

Trotta, Daniel, and Lesley Wroughton. “Kerry Urges ‘genuine Democracy’ in Cuba as U.S. Raises Its Flag.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 14 Aug. 2015. Web. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/15/us-cuba-usa-idUSKCN0QJ0BB20150815&gt;.

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2 thoughts on “Strengths and Weaknesses of Freedom House’s Methodology

  1. Sydney,
    I agree with your point on democracy being a complex term, making it extremely difficult to judge what is democratic and what is not. Your discussion of Cuba made me consider current countries labelled as democratic which, nonetheless, have some seemingly undemocratic tendencies. In particular, I think of the unimportance of specific citizens voting in the United States for President as well as the domination of two parties. I also wonder about the majoritarian government in the U.K. in which a government (such as the currently in control Conservative party) can do whatever they please until the five year election. While they may hold elections, five years of complete control under one party does seem a bit undemocratic, no? Especially when constituents of other parties have quite literally no say until election time. These tendencies seem more complicated when people attempt at evaluating the freedom levels of a country. While other countries have blatantly “undemocratic” regimes, the idiosyncrasies of judging freedoms are certainly difficult.
    Anyways, I really enjoyed your post!

  2. This is a nice complement to Abby’s post — both of you analyze bias very well. I also like the example (Cuba). Interesting post.

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