Competitiveness of political participation score

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What you should know about this indicator

Indicator name: parcomp

The Competitiveness of Participation: The competitiveness of participation refers to the extent to which alternative preferences for policy and leadership can be pursued in the political arena. Political competition implies a significant degree of civil interaction, so polities which are coded Unregulated (1) on Regulation of Participation (PARREG, variable 2.5) are not coded for competitiveness. Polities in transition between Unregulated and any of the regulated forms on variable 2.5 also are not coded on variable 2.6. Competitiveness is coded on a fivecategory scale:

(0) Not Applicable: This is used for polities that are coded as Unregulated, or moving to/from nthat position, in Regulation of Political Participation (variable 2.6).

(1) Repressed: No significant oppositional activity is permitted outside the ranks of the regime and ruling party. Totalitarian party systems, authoritarian military dictatorships, and despotic monarchies are typically coded here. However, the mere existence of these structures is not sufficient for a Repressed coding. The regime's institutional structure must also be matched by its demonstrated ability to repress oppositional competition.

(2) Suppressed: Some organized, political competition occurs outside government, without serious factionalism; but the regime systematically and sharply limits its form, extent, or both in ways that exclude substantial groups (20% or more of the adult population) from participation. Suppressed competition is distinguished from Factional competition (below) by the systematic, persisting nature of the restrictions: large classes of people, groups, or types of peaceful political competition are continuously excluded from the political process. As an operational rule, the banning of a political party which received more than 10% of the vote in a recent national election is sufficient evidence that competition is "suppressed." However, other information is required to determine whether the appropriate coding is (2) Suppressed or (3) Factional competition. This category is also used to characterize transitions between Factional and Repressed competition. Examples of "suppression" are:

i. Prohibiting some kinds of political organizations, either by type or group of people involved (e.g., no national political parties or no ethnic political organizations). ii. Prohibiting some kinds of political action (e.g., Communist parties may organize but are prohibited from competing in elections). iii. Systematic harassment of political opposition (leaders killed, jailed, or sent into exile; candidates regularly ruled off ballots; opposition media banned, etc.). This is evidence for either Factional, Suppressed, or Repressed, depending on the nature of the regime, the opposition, and the persistence of political groups.

Note 3.6: A newly enacted right to engage in political activities is most likely a change from category 1 to 2.

(3) Factional: Polities with parochial or ethnic-based political factions that regularly compete for political influence in order to promote particularist agendas and favor group members to the detriment of common, secular, or cross-cutting agendas.

(4) Transitional: Any transitional arrangement from Restricted, Suppressed, or Factional patterns to fully Competitive patterns, or vice versa. Transitional arrangements are accommodative of competing, parochial interests but have not fully linked parochial with broader, general interests. Sectarian and secular interest groups coexist.

(5) Competitive: There are relatively stable and enduring, secular political groups which regularly compete for political influence at the national level; ruling groups and coalitions regularly, voluntarily transfer central powerto competing groups. Competition among groups seldom involves coercion or disruption. Small parties or political groups may be restricted in the Competitive pattern.

By combining scores on Regulation of Political Participation (variable 3.5) and the Competitiveness of Participation (variable 3.6), a relatively detailed picture of the extent of political competition and opposition emerges. A translation of the Polity IV conceptual categories of political competition into the component coding scheme described here is presented in Table 3.2 (in codebook).

Competitiveness of political participation score
Indicates the extent to which political participation is competitive. It ranges from unregulated political participation (score of 0), over repressed political participation (score of 1), suppressed political participation (score of 2), factional political participation (score of 3), and transitional arrangements (score of 4), to competitive political participation (score of 5).
Polity 5 (2020) – processed by Our World in Data
Last updated
May 13, 2024
Next expected update
May 2025
Date range

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The Polity5 project continues the Polity research tradition of coding the authority characteristics of states in the world system for purposes of comparative, quantitative analysis. The original Polity conceptual scheme was formulated and the initial Polity I data collected under the direction of Ted Robert Gurr and informed by foundational, collaborative work with Harry Eckstein, Patterns of Authority: A Structural Basis for Political Inquiry (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1975). The Polity project has proven its value to researchers over the years, becoming the most widely used resource for monitoring regime change and studying the effects of regime authority. The Polity project evolved through three earlier research phases, all under the direction of Ted Gurr. The Polity III phase updated core Polity data through 1992 and was later updated through 1998 and released as the Polity98 version. Through its evolution, the format of the Polity data has been transformed from its original focus on “persistence and change” in the “polity” as the unit of analysis (i.e., politycase format) to its present country-year case format. The original Polity I format was revisited by a research team under the direction of Nils Petter Gleditsch and information concerning the dates of coded polity changes was updated in 1994 and made available in the original polity-case format as Polity IIId. In the late 1990s, Polity became a core data project in the State Failure Task Force global forecasting project. The special focus on “state failure” problem events within a general context of societal and systemic development processes requires information pertinent to both Polity foci, state continuity and change (country-year format) and regime persistence and change (polity-case format), be combined in a single data resource base. The Polity IV combined format version was instituted with the 2000 data update.

Retrieved on
May 13, 2024
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
Marshall, Monty G. and Ted Robert Gurr. 2020. Polity 5: Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800-2018. Center for Systemic Peace.

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Values -66, -77 and -88 are recoded as missing (NAs), as per the rules on page 17 of the Polity 5 codebook.

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“Data Page: Competitiveness of political participation score”, part of the following publication: Bastian Herre, Lucas Rodés-Guirao, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Max Roser (2013) - “Democracy”. Data adapted from Polity 5. Retrieved from [online resource]
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Polity 5 (2020) – processed by Our World in Data

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Polity 5 (2020) – processed by Our World in Data. “Competitiveness of political participation score” [dataset]. Polity 5, “Polity5 Project, Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800-2018 5” [original data]. Retrieved July 23, 2024 from