Charts: Tanzania, democracy and open (/closed?) budgets

Is democracy on the decline in Tanzania? With newspapers being suspended (and suspending themselves?), TV stations fined, opposition politicians and other government critics arrested (or shot), and political rallies banned, there are some very clear grounds for concern.

And the 2017 Democracy Index – a global index published this week by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) – would seem to agree. Tanzania’s score on the index has dropped, driven by a sharp drop in one particular dimension: civil liberties. 

Another index was also published this week: the Open Budget Index, by the International Budget Partnership (IBP). Here Tanzania’s decline is even steeper, for a simple reason: a wide range of budget information that was previously made public is no longer accessible.

And indeed, these two charts tell us something else: about the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Most readers are probably aware that Tanzania left the OGP last year. This was probably inevitable: considering the political dynamics that lie behind the trends shown in these charts, Tanzania’s position in the OGP had become increasingly untenable. 

But it’s worth digging a little further into the details. Eligibility to join the OGP depends on scoring 12 or more (out of 16) on a scorecard that pulls together a range of different measures. This includes the civil liberties score on the Democracy Index and various things reported by the Open Budget Index. In the past, Tanzania has always scraped through with 12, and in the latest version of the scorecard, calculated just two months ago, this was still in the case. But with the latest versions of the indexes shown in the charts above, Tanzania’s OGP eligibility score will have dropped. On civil liberties: from 3 to 2. On open budgets: this is more fiddly to calculate, but it will have dropped from 4, either to 2 or possibly even to 0. 

With a score no higher than 9 on the OGP eligibility scorecard, Tanzania would no longer be allowed to join.


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