The Evolving Political Crisis in Burkina Faso: Observations from Ouagadougou

Let me share an update on the ongoing crisis: The Evolving Political Crisis in Burkina Faso: Observations from Ouagadougou

Mali – a surprising coup d’Etat?

Polling station, showing elector giving fingerprint

Polling station in the region of Sikasso, Mali during the 2007 parliamentary elections.

Five years ago, I had a great experience in observing the parliamentary elections in Mali. Affected in Sikasso, I was deeply impressed by the quality of the organization of the poll as well as by the deeply rooted public support for democracy.

So it was surprising for me to get the news about the coup d’Etat two weeks ago. Jonathan van Eerd, a PhD candidate and good old fellow who conducts his research work on democratization in Sub-saharian Africa, wrote a quite clear analysis about what happened in Mali. I would like to recommend this article to everybody interested in questions about stability and the importance of power balances in emerging and new democracies.

What we can learn from media

In consolidated democracies, characterized by programmatic linkages between political actors and the electorate, the today’s key role of media in the political process is to establish and ensure the link between the political supply and demand side. Hence, media represent a rich source for scholars investigating in mechanisms behind the political mobilization. But how can information of programmatic positions be extracted? In this paper, I give an overview of recent theoretical and methodological approaches in the concerned field. A comparison of different widely used measurement techniques shows that results heavily depends on employed techniques. Read more:

  • Media as Data Source for the Analysis of Democratic Processes: Theoretical Considerations and Empirical Challenges – Paper presented at University of Mauritius, August, 20th, 2008 [pdf, 297kB]

Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI)

Other interesting data – conceptually inspired by the transformation theory – provides us the Bertelsmann Foundation with their BTI. Check this discussion on the CRRC-blog and the reference below.


  • BTI – Detailled data 2008. now available here.
  • Schmidt, Siegmar, 2006. “Wie viel Demokratie gibt es in Afrika?” Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, APuZ 32-33:2006. This article is online available here.

Data on democratization

Often, students ask me where to find indicators measuring democracy. Hum. Well known and commonly used is the data provided by, an US-based NGO. Freedomhouse data are handy, but their operationalization and measuring is sometimes quite rough. An other well known dataset, Tatu Vanhanen’s Polyarchy dataset including Vanhanen’s index of democracy, is much more sophisticated but also more complex. Check the CSCW website to get the original data. Updates and additional data by Lars Wilhelmsen can also be found there.

There are many other datasets available, unfortunately there are only few covering a broader range of countries over a longer timespan. E. g. Schmidt (1997, 264-291; 2000, 539-550) gives a good overview of datasets and indicators on democratization.


  • Schmidt, Manfred G., 1997. Demokratietheorien, 2. Auflage, Opladen: Leske & Budrich
  • Schmidt, Manfred G., 2000 (unveränderter Nachdruck 2006). Demokratietheorien, 3. Auflage, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.