Measures of Democracy is a dataset containing three different variables, created by Tatu Vanhanen in his long-term research, for each year from 1810 to 2008. The variables in question are political competition, political participation and the index of democratization.
The competition variable portrays the electoral success of smaller parties, that is, the percentage of votes gained by the smaller parties in parliamentary and/or presidential elections. The variable is calculated by subtracting from 100 the percentage of votes won by the largest party (the party which wins most votes) in parliamentary elections or by the party of the successful candidate in presidential elections. Depending on their importance, either parliamentary or presidential elections are used in the calculation of the variable, or both elections are used, with weights. If information on the distribution of votes is not available, or if the distribution does not portray the reality accurately, the distribution of parliamentary seats is used instead. If parliament members are elected but political parties are not allowed to take part in elections, it is assumed that one party has taken all votes or seats. In countries where parties are not banned but yet only independent candidates participate in elections, it is assumed that the share of the largest party is not over 30 percent.
The political participation variable portrays the voting turnout in each election, and is calculated as the percentage of the total population who actually voted in the election. In the case of indirect elections, only votes cast in the final election are taken into account. If electors have not been elected by citizens, only the number of actual electors is taken into account, which means that the degree of participation drops to the value 0. If an election to choose electors has been held, the participation variable is calculated from the number and distribution of votes in that election. National referendums raise the variable value by five percent and state (regional) referendums by one percent for the year they are held. Referendums can add the degree of participation at maximum by 30 percent a year. The value of the combined degree of participation cannot be higher than 70 percent, even in cases where the sum of participation and referendums would be higher than 70.
The index of democratization is formed by multiplying the competition and the participation variables and then dividing the outcome by 100.