On June 25, Freedom House released its 2015 Nations in Transit report. "The findings of the 2015 edition of Nations in Transit (NIT), Freedom House's annual study of democratic governance in 29 countries from Central Europe to Central Asia, underscore the growing audacity of democracy's foes in Eurasia, where 4 in 5 people live uner authoritarian rule" wrote Sylvana Habdank-Kolaczkowska, the Project Director of Nations in Transit.
"Azerbaijan is ruled by an authoritarian regime characterized by intolerance for dissent and disregard for civil liberties and political rights. After President Heydar Aliyev came to power in 1993, he secured a ceasefire in Azerbaijan’s war with Armenia (1994) and established relative domestic stability, but he also instituted a Soviet-style vertical power system based on patronage and the suppression of political dissent. Ilham Aliyev succeeded his father in 2003, continuing and intensifying the most repressive aspects of Heydar’s rule. Since then, the inflow of significant oil revenues has fueled presidential patronage, strengthened the state’s security apparatus, and partially subdued both domestic and foreign criticism of the regime", says the report.
Azerbaijan's overall score has only decreased in the past nine years with every single indicator - electoral process, governance, media, judicial framework, corruption and the democracy - only sliding further to the botton.
The scores and ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 7 the lowest. The 2015 ratings reflect the period January 1 through December 31, 2014.
This year, the country is only a few indicators behind in getting the worst levels of democratic progress score, ranking 6.75.
The overall key findings of the report include:
- Of the 29 countries assessed for 2014, 13 were rated as democracies, 6 as transitional regimes, and 10 as authoritarian regimes.
- Russia earned its largest ratings decline in a decade in 2014, as the Kremlin stepped up suppression of dissent at home while seeking to destabilize the new government in Ukraine.
- As in each of the previous 10 years, the average democracy score declined in 2014, with 12 countries suffering downgrades.
- Following the collapse of Viktor Yanukovych’s corrupt presidency, and two rounds of well-administered, competitive elections, Ukraine received four ratings improvements for 2014.
- Four out of seven countries registered declines in the Balkans, with journalists in a precarious situation and stalling judicial reforms.
- Hungary, driving the decline in Central and Eastern Europe, was demoted from “consolidated democracy” to “semi-consolidated democracy.” The demotion came after seven straight years of score declines.
Read the full report here.