Freedom House is an independent non-governmental organisation from the United States, which monitors and conducts research on the state of democracy, political freedoms and human rights in the world. The organisation is dedicated to advocating for greater political rights and civil liberties, and supporting activists in defending human rights and promoting democratic change. To fulfil its mission Freedom House compiles and publishes annual reports, researches and analyses that shape domestic and international political debates as well as policies.
One of these reports is the annual Nations in Transit study which analyses and evaluates democratic governance in 29 Post Soviet countries from Central Europe to Central Asia. Freedom House’s Index assesses the state of democratic governance based on events, political decisions, approved regulations and social movements which occurred during the previous year. In compiling a country’s democracy score the report focuses on seven indicators, which are national democratic governance, electoral process, civil society, independent media, local democratic governance, judicial framework and its independence, and corruption.
The state of Estonian democracy has been monitored and analysed since 2005. During the period from 2005 until 2014 Estonia’s democracy score has remained the same (1.96). According to Freedom House, countries receiving a democracy score of 1.00–1.99 embody the best policies and practices of liberal democracy. Although, the indicator assessing civil society has improved since 2005, the rating of electoral processes has worsened. The indicator measuring the level of corruption improved two years before the Silvergate scandal in 2012, but after its emergence the value of the indicator returned to its 2005-level.
In the Nations in Transit Index published in 2014 and 2015 Estonia held a second place among 29 countries. The report published in 2015 argues that although the new government dealt effectively with several principled issues, such as national defence and the protection of sexual minorities’ rights, Freedom House did not deem necessary to raise the democratic score of Estonia as the impacts of these reforms will express and cement themselves over a longer period of time.
Freedom House’s home page can be seen here.