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Measuring the efficacy of EU political conditionality : using freedom house and polity IV to measure how the EU’s use of political conditionality may affect democracy
Kurzfassung auf EnglischThe purpose of my thesis is to review the work of Schimmelfennig and Scholtz in their 2007 working paper concerning the efficacy of EU political conditionality in promoting democratization via the ENP and EU membership. While the authors find that political conditionality was highly effective if EU membership hung in the balance, the same could not be said where there was no explicit prospect of joining the EU – a premise that gives a rather bleak outlook for the ENP. However, while feeling that their underlying conclusions are almost certainly correct, I identify various problems with their study – the most serious of which is their over-reliance on Freedom House’s political rights and civil liberties as their dependent variables. Furthermore, some of their control/rival-hypothesis variables also contain problems, but nowhere near the extent found in the Freedom House-based variables. I therefore open up a debate surrounding the introduction of a rival measurement of democracy, the Polity IV (2) measurement, and examine how different simple multivariate ordinary least squares regressions look among the three differing dependent variables.
While the difference is certainly not huge, there is enough difference to at least raise the notion that their original results may change somewhat if the Polity IV (2) measurement was inserted as a robustness check rather than using the Freedom House civil liberties measurement. Furthermore, one of their control variables, a dummy variable controlling for Muslim countries in the Mediterranean region, I believe, is used in an unjustified way, which most likely inflates the importance of the EU incentive/credibility combination relationships; however, my simple tests do not show the extent of said inflation. I conclude by agreeing with the original results of Schimmelfennig and Scholtz, but would urge them to include a different measurement of democracy (not necessarily Polity IV ) and to at least reconsider the way in which they utilize their Islamic Mediterranean variable and the manner in which their “gravity towards the EU” variable is calculated.