While it is commonly agreed on, that being able to measure democracy precisely has become increasingly important in political science, different approaches can be taken to measure democracy. This paper compares and evaluates Freedom House (FH) and Vanhanen’s approaches and applies those to the United Public of Tanzania from 1974 to the present. While both approaches agree that Tanzania cannot be classified as a democracy, Vanhanen determines the degree of democracy on the basis of elections and their outcomes and FH by looking at the implementation of preconditions of democracy.
First this paper discusses FH’s and Vanhanen’s measurements and gives a general historical overview of Tanzania’s politics, before comparing the two measures, while determining their applicability to Tanzania.
Measuring Democracy: Freedom House versus Vanhanen
The Freedom in the World survey conducted by FH aims to measure the extent of freedom of a country since 1972, taking a quantitative approach. The survey rates countries on a seventh-point scale (one representing the most free, seven the least free countries) in the categories of political rights and civil liberties. FH further divides civil liberties into four and political rights into three subcategories, extensively addressing several aspects of democracies. The mean of the political rights- and civil liberties scores then determine whether FH regards a country as ‘Free’, ‘Partially Free’ or ‘Not Free’. The survey therefore provides a trichotomous categorization of democracy through a continuous scale. Furthermore, FH classifies countries that meet a certain standard in the electoral process and in the level of competition as electoral democracies. The measurement relies on country visits, reports from NGO’s, foreign and domestic news reports, academic analyses, and individual professional contacts (Freedom House, 2010a).
FH categorizes Tanzania as ‘not free’ until 1994 and then as ‘partially free’, with political rights- and civil liberties scores starting at six and improving with time to four and three respectively (see appendix Graph #1)(Freedom House, 2010b). This classification can be comprehended best when analyzing Tanzania’s political history.
Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika), a one party dominant state, gained independence from Britain in 1961, when it merged with Zanzibar, Pemba and several other small islands. Ever since has the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party been dominating Tanzania’s political life (see appendix Table#2). Multi-party elections were introduced in 1995, causing the shift in FH’s categorization from ‘not free’ to ‘partially free’. However, the elections in 1995 where considered unfair and not free due to poor organization of the electoral process, frauds and administrative irregularities, especially in Zanzibar. While the elections in 2000 and 2005 showed some improvement, the opposition party ‘Civic United Front’ (CUF) as well as independent observers, accused the CCM of having engaged in fraud again. In 1992 Tanzania legalized opposition parties but the prohibition of political coalitions anticipated the strengthening of them. Furthermore corruption remains a huge problem. Even though an anticorruption bill was passed in 2007, it has been claimed to be insufficient and ineffective. Besides, there have been ongoing riots in Zanzibar since 2001 but the government has failed to solve this political crisis so far (Freedom House 2010c).