January 22, 2018 Print

Presentation event in Madrid, January 15, 2018. Left to right, Prof. Iván Suazo (Vice-President for Research, Universidad Autónoma de Chile); Juan Pina (Fundalib Secretary-General); and the author, Prof. José Antonio Peña.

The Foundation for the Advancement of Liberty (Fundación para el Avance de la Libertad, or Fundalib), an Atlas Network partner based in Madrid, Spain, has launched the first edition of its World Electoral Freedom Index (WEFI). In collaboration with Chile’s Universidad Autónoma, this study measures electoral freedom in 198 countries. Fifty-five components are taken into account to establish each country’s score and ranking in the four sub-indices: Political Development, Active Suffrage Freedom, Passive Suffrage Freedom, and Elector Empowerment.

“The World Electoral Freedom Index (WEFI) is the first academic attempt to measure the degree of the elector’s freedom and empowerment across almost two hundred countries,” said Roxana Nicula, president of Fundalib. “The Index hopes to achieve recognition of the fact that, while democracy has become the international standard in governance of societies, electoral systems may actually support or refrain individual freedom. It is therefore necessary to apply comparative research. This will encourage and positively project those electoral systems which really empower a country’s individuals, and it will expose those others which just provide an appearance of electoral freedom and make democracy an excuse for big and tough government.”

This first edition of WEFI ranks Ireland as the country with the highest level of electoral freedom, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, and Australia. The worst performing countries are those with merely formal electoral processes, including Cuba, North Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia. Last in the ranking is the Sultanate of Brunei.

The full WEFI 2018, a 72 page bilingual booklet in English and Spanish, may be freely downloaded. The WEFI was directed by José Antonio Peña, a social sciences professor at Seville’s Pablo de Olavide University and a member of Fundalib’s council. In this endeavor he was joined by a scientific committee including fourteen peers representing universities from nine countries in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Author of the Index, Professor José Antonio Peña.

Peña’s findings and methodology reports are joined by a preface by Cuban exiled writer Carlos Alberto Montaner, Fundalib’s honorary president. Among the booklet’s further content, a report is also included on how electoral freedom correlates with other regularly published freedom indices: freedom of the press, economic freedom, religious and moral freedom, or the Cato Institute’s prestigious Human Freedom index.

“Also, this index provides ground for comparison and correlation research between this particular freedom (that of the citizens in their capacity as electors) and all other freedoms measured by existing indices,” Nicula continued. “The Index aims at becoming the tool for policy makers to promote pro-liberty views on electoral systems and their reform, in order to push individual freedom forward, reduce government intervention, and strengthen civil society.”

The World Electoral Freedom Index was presented in Madrid on January 15 by the author, joined by Fundalib’s secretary-general Juan Pina and the vice-president of Chile’s Universidad Autónoma, Iván Suazo. Further events will be organized in Spain, Chile, and other countries in Europe and the Americas. One of Fundalib’s lines of action is to act as an observatory of the state of liberty, and particularly through comparative research on specific areas which had been less covered until now.

View the World Electoral Freedom Index (WEFI).