Estonia ranked number one in democratic development among 29 post-communist nations in the annual democratic development report Nations in Transit released by US-based human rights organization Freedom House.

Estonian democracy has a strong foundation and governance adheres to best liberal democracy practices, spokespeople for Estonian non-profit think tank Praxis Center for Policy Studies said on Wednesday.

The Nations in Transit report includes 29 countries from Central Europe to Eurasia, measuring their progress according to seven indicators: electoral process, civil society, independent media, national democratic governance, local democratic governance, judicial framework and independence, and corruption. The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 7 the lowest. Estonia’s score improved from 1.96 to 1.93.

Estonia was followed in the rankings by Slovenia and Latvia, while Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan came in at the bottom of the scoreboard.

“The development of the region as a whole was characterized in 2015 by the migration crisis and economic problems whose impact threaten both the stability of the EU and survival of Eurasian dictatorial governance systems,” said Rauno Vinni, a governance expert at Praxis.

Vinni noted that the average democratic development score across all nations in transit had fallen for the 12th consecutive year. The fall was led by Russia, however since 2011 the situation had worsened in other Eurasian countries as well, including in the Balkans and Central Europe.

“Estonia’s score did not change much compared to the previous period, but showed a modest improvement thanks to a well-organized election process,” noted the expert. “Civic rights and freedoms were ensured, the e-voting system worked, and new parties entered into the Riigikogu. According to the report, this demonstrated the functioning of our multi-party system and stable democracy of elections.”

Founded in 1941, Freedom House is a US-based non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on advocacy and conducting research on democracy, political freedom and human rights. Its annual Nations in Transit report, which focuses on governance in nations of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, was first published in 2003.

The full 2016 Nations in Transit report on Estonia can be read here.

Source: Estonia tops Freedom House rankings for post-communist democratic development, ERR