origins of the Fitzgibbon democracy survey date back to 1945 when
Professor Russell H. Fitzgibbon, a UCLA political scientist, asked a
panel of ten distinguished U.S.
scholars of Latin America to rank the
twenty Latin American republics according to a set of criteria that he
felt would measure the extent of democracy in each of the countries.
His criteria for assessing the strength of democracy, fifteen in all,
encompassed the following describers:
1. An educational level
sufficient to give the political processes some substance and vitality,
which may be reflected in a popular ability to communicate and share a
common political life while allowing for diverse interpretations of it.
2. A reasonably adequate standard
of living and a sufficiently well-balanced economic life so as
to enable the population to feel it has a meaningful share in the
nation’s overall material yield.
3. A sense of internal unity
and national cohesion to the extent that one can speak realistically of
a psychological basis for claiming nationhood.
4. Belief by the population
generally that their political system is mature, well
functioning, and enjoys a dignified reputation vis-à-vis the
5. Relative absence of
foreign domination in the sense of external overshadowing,
direct control, and/or manipulation of the national political and
6. Freedom of speech,
press, assembly, public communications, etc., without fear of reprisals
for the exercise of such freedoms.
7. Free and popular elections,
impartial rules impartially applied, no voter intimidation, honest
8. Freedom of party
organization, genuine and effective party opposition in a
legislative arena that permits scrutiny and/or challenge of the
executive branch of government.
9. An independently
functioning judiciary, respect for its decisions, honesty in
the administration of justice under impartial rules including the
ability to effectively declare acts of the legislative and executive
branches of government to be unlawful.
10. Governmental accountability
for the administration of public funds, a general public
consciousness of the problem of fiscal rectitude, and the relative absence
of financial graft as a general governmental practice.
11. Social legislation,
a general commitment to social (as well as political) democracy, the
vitality of such legislation as applied in programs of sincere and
progressive reform that go beyond the “paper stage” and
really get put into effect.
12. Civilian supremacy over the
military establishment. The latter specializes in national
defense, maintaining domestic order. The armed forces are not normally
the principal arbiters of the national policy destiny.
13 Reasonable absence from
political life of ecclesiastical controls or religious duress.
This means that the political system is not dominated by formally
organized churches, or by informally constitutional spiritualists.
14. Professionalization of
governmental administration in terms of training, a merit
system, the relative absence of nepotism as a recruitment basis for
public administrators, the relative absence of corruption in personnel
management, de-emphasis of spoils system generally.
15. Local self-government
that is genuinely responsive to local needs and not simply the
repressive arm of a distant centralized command center. The degree to which local governments
generally merit the respect of the populace (as agent “dispensers
of satisfactions” that are popularly appreciated).