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Mar 24, 2020

Inquiring minds want to know: Questions for a global democracy index

The V-Dem Institute is – wait for it – a Soros-funded institute. The EU now has an authoritarian state. That’s the sensational lead that has been circulating in the Twittersphere regarding a report released late last week by the little-known Varieties of Democracy Institute in Sweden funded by the Open Society Foundation. Which country is it? I’ll give you one guess.

The V-Dem Institute, located at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, published its Democracy Report 2020, a global index that ranks democracies based on a list of indicators evaluated by panels of “country experts” who possess the “extensive conceptual and case knowledge.”

This year’s report claims that Hungary has transitioned from a “liberal democracy” to something called an “electoral autocracy.”

Here are three simple questions every critical reader should be asking about this democracy ranking and its claim that Hungary is an authoritarian state.

Who are these “experts” evaluating Hungary?

Trust me, I looked for a list of the experts said to possess “extensive conceptual and case knowledge,” but I couldn’t find it. I did find a list of references on page 38 and noted that all of the articles with Hungarian authors are from the liberal-left, including a CEU professor and an advisor to Freedom House. Those are funded by Soros.

Is V-Dem’s panel of experts balanced? Does it also include experts with extensive conceptual and case knowledge from the right of center? Or is it stacked with those from the left of center?

Why did the V-Dem Steering Committee “not officially endorse” the main finding, that is, that Hungary is “the only authoritarian EU member state”?

V-Dem runs with the sensational, Hungary-bashing headline about Hungary being “the only authoritarian EU member state,” but in the small print of a caption buried on page 14 says that this is “not officially endorsed by the V-Dem Steering Committee.”

Why did the V-Dem Steering Committee not endorse that finding?

Could it be that some scholars on the Steering Committee thought it was flimsy?

Who funds V-Dem and why is Hungary highlighted in a global report?

This Democracy Report 2020 is a global index. It boasts 3,000 experts with “extensive conceptual and case knowledge.” That’s a big endeavor. And in all of this, Hungary for some strange reason is highlighted.

So who funds V-Dem. The Open Society Foundation. You can read that here, but you need to scroll down to the curious “Funders of ‘Other Acitivities’”.