Demokraatlike poliitiliste süsteemide empiiriline analüüs on valdkond, mis on viimase 10 aasta jooksul jõudsasti arenenud tõsiseltvõetava teadusinfrastruktuuri suunas. Kui veel hiljaaegu tuginesid demokraatiauuringud enamasti vaid Freedom House’i või ’Polity’ programmi poolt loodud andmebaasidele, siis nüüdseks on lisandunud vähemalt 7 uut pikaajalist ning mitmedimensioonilist indeksit. Käesolev taotlus seab sihiks tõsta Eesti nende 'cutting-edge' uurimisprogrammide hulka võttes aluseks maailma kõige võimsama demokraatiaindeksi – V-Dem – ning luues selles baasil regionaalse uurimiskeskuse. Keskuse eesmärgiks on teostada statistilisi uuringuid demokraatia mustritest Balti riikides, Venemaal ning Ida-Euroopas, nii tänapäeval kui ka minevikus. V-Dem’i innovaatilisus seisneb selles, et ta mõõdab üle 100 riigi demokraatlikku struktuuri 400 muutuja alusel ning enam kui 100 aasta lõikes. Projektis osalejad on kõik V-Dem’iga tihedalt seotud ning omavad võrgustiku tugevat toetust.
In the scholarly world today a revolution is going on in the empirical study of democracy. In the space of just 10 years, no less than 7 new indices of democracy have been developed and tested with vast arrays of data and analysis. This project aims to integrate the Baltic states and Russia into the most extensive and elaborate of these endeavors: the Varieties of Democracy (or V-Dem) database. Using the V-Dem dataset, the project proposes a series of cutting-edge research questions concerning the evolution of democracy in the Baltic states, Eastern Europe and Russia. Moreover, the project envisions the creation of a regional V-Dem center as part of its sustainability plan. All three project participants have already been involved in V-Dem data collection and network activities. The application is about developing the exploratory infrastructure for a qualitatively new type of democracy research, and for placing Estonia within the center of this research.
How has democracy evolved in post-communist countries since the beginning of the 1990s? This may seem like a banal question more than 30 years since the collapse of communism. But in fact a more systematic understanding and mapping of these trajectories in political science has been hampered by the lack (until now) of a comprehensive tool for the measurement of democracy. The internationally-led V-Dem research network and database is the first attempt of its kind to measure the evolution of democracy in more than 180 countries based on 400 variables across 100 country-years (1900-2017). The current project was therefore aimed at studying the V-Dem database with the post-communist region in focus, in order to understand their particular political development in time and space. The project was carried out across six sub-themes, all using V-Dem data. The first was a preliminary analysis of V-Dem data for the Baltic states since 1990. Thereafter, a study was conducted of post-communist development overall in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The third topic was a historical comparison between two periods in CEE, 1920-1940 and 1990-2010 in order to understand democratization during different geopolitical eras. Fourthly, a study was made comparing V-Dem to other existing datasets. Fifthly, a paper was written on patterns of autocracy in Russia and other Eurasian countries. And a final study looked at patterns of liberalization in autocratic regimes around the world. The most important results of the project include the creation of a V-Dem Regional Center for Eastern Europe and Russia, which has organized 3 intl. research seminars, fostered 13 conference presentations, developed extensive intl. cooperation (US, South Africa, elsewhere), promoted the use of V-Dem data in teaching and research, as well as presented the V-Dem project to non-academic audiences and readers. The crowning achievement of the project will be the completion of a book manuscript at the end of 2019.