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V-Dem: The World's Largest Dataset on Democracy Offers New Insights for Open Government

  • Open Gov Hub 1110 Vermont Ave NW Washington, DC 20005 USA (map)

The global trend of autocratization – the gradual or sudden demise of democratic regime traits – provides new challenges to the work of international actors such as the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Capitalizing the world’s largest dataset on democracy, the research of the Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem) can help OGP staff and partners and other advocates of open government to understand the current processes of backsliding and closing space better. For instance, V-Dem data shows that contemporary regime elites are more likely to engage in protracted, and less visible means of autocratization. While in previous eras would-be autocrats abandoned multi-party elections altogether, their contemporary cousins tend to keep them but use more subtle methods to ensure their victory.

In this seminar, the Deputy Director of the V-Dem Institute, Anna Lührmann, who will be visiting DC from Sweden, will present the V-Dem dataset and discuss the following questions:

- How serious are global contemporary challenges to democracy? Which thematic issues (e.g. media, civil society, elections) and countries are most affected?

- How are contemporary challenges to democracy different from historical ones?

- How inclusive are contemporary democracies in terms of gender, minorities and wealth?

- How can the work of the OGP and other open government advocates benefit from V-Dem data and research?


About V-Dem:

The Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute is based at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden). It hosts one of the largest-ever social science data collection projects with a database of over 15 million data points covering 350 distinct and precise indicators of democracy. V-Dem’s multidimensional and disaggregated approach allows new insights on the origins and consequences of democracy. Since January 2015, the database is available free of charge online as global public good. The V-Dem dataset covers 178 countries and dependent territories from 1900 to 2017. Unlike earlier data collection projects, which typically use a small group of experts who rate all countries or ask a single expert to code one country, the V-Dem project has recruited over 3,200 local and cross-national experts to provide judgments on various indicators about democracy.


About Anna Lührmann:

Anna Lührmann (*1983) is the Deputy Director of the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute and Assistant Professor at the University of Gothenburg. Prior to turning to academia, Anna was an MP in the German National Parliament (Bundestag, 2002- 2009) and worked in Sudan for two years. She received her PhD in 2015 from Humboldt University (Berlin) with a thesis on United Nation’s electoral assistance. Anna Lührmann holds a M.A. degree in “Research Training in Social Sciences” from Humboldt University (Berlin), a M.Sc. degree in Gender and Peace Studies from Ahfad University (Sudan) and a B.A. in Political Sciences from FernUniversität Hagen (Germany). She served as a consultant for UNDP, the World Bank and others. Her research has been published among others in Electoral Studies, International Political Science Review and the Journal of Democracy.