Methodology for Country Profiles

As part of ECPS’s efforts to contribute to the growing scholarly research on populism, raise public awareness, and provide practical recommendations to policy makers, ECPS monitors populism trends around the world by observing and reporting on populist political parties, movements, and actors. Populist politics is strongly linked with rolling back democratic norms and authoritarianism.

To highlight these trends and dangers, ECPS produces country profiles of approximately 1500-2500 words. Each country profile includes national demographic and economic data, gives a summary of national political and socioeconomic trends, and describes the main fault lines in national politics. Country profiles also analyse rising populist trends and the main populist parties and leaders, as well as their discourses and policy goals. Profiles conclude with an overall assessment of democratic rights and freedoms.

ECPS’s country profiles also feature a “regime rating,” a shorthand method for analysing the strength of a country’s democratic institutions and norms. Regime ratings are calculated based on a country’s performance across four key areas: fundamental human rights, civil liberties, rule of law, and elections. Each category is scored out of 25 points based upon meeting certain indicators. These include:

For fundamental human rights: the right to life, the right to work, and the right to education without discrimination.

For civil liberties: freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.

For rule of law: independence of the judiciary from executive powers.

For elections: whether elections regularly occur and if recent elections have been free and fair.

Thus, each regime is assigned a numerical rating out of 100 points. The authors of country profiles calculate these points based on Freedom House’s Freedom in the World scores and the Economist Intelligent Unit’s Democracy Index.

Taking into account the fulfilment of democratic rights, freedoms, and mechanisms across these four areas, the ECPS designates regimes scoring 80 or as full democracies; those between 60 and 80 as flawed democracies; those between 60 and 40 as pseudo democracies; and those below 40 as dictatorships. Dictatorships are further classified among themselves. Those between 40 and 30 are labelled simple dictatorships; those between 30 and 20 are authoritarian dictatorships; and those below 20 are classified as totalitarian dictatorships.

A Guideline for Country Profile Texts

This guideline serves as a sample reference for writing a country profile text primarily exploring the country’s populist context. Please follow this outline:

Part-I: Geographic information and national socioeconomic background

Questions to be answered:

  • Where is country X located?
  • When and under which conditions was independence achieved?

Part-II: Effect of World Wars I and II

Questions to be answered:

  • How did World Wars I and II impact country X?
  • Did these effects increase the role of populism in country X?

Part-III: Roots of social, economic, and political problems and the rise of populism

Questions to be answered:

  • What are the social, economic, and political concerns that paved the way for the rise of populism in country X?
  • How do these concerns underlie the construction of a populist agenda?

Part-IV: Populism and recent political organizations

Questions to be answered:

  • Who are the main populist actors – individual or organizational – in country X?
  • How do these actors ground their populist claims?
  • What is the most effective populist rhetoric?
  • How do these recent populist actors fit into larger populist trends?

Part-V: The most visible shift towards populism

Questions to be answered:

  • What was/is the most visible shift towards populist rhetoric?
  • What concrete moves have populist politicians/groups taken?
  • What are the basic motivations behind those moves?

Part-VI: Settings of populist discourse

Questions to be answered:

  • How is populism defined in the context of country X?
  • In what settings are social and political realities translated into populist rhetoric?

Part-VII: Characterization of “self” and “other” divide

Questions to be answered:

  • How is the “self” and “other” divide defined?
  • What are the adjectives used to define both?

Part-VIII: Emplotment

Questions to be answered:

  • How do populism factors tap into actors’ populist discourse in country X?
  • Does what is happening on the ground contradict or reinforce populist claims?
  • How do emplotment strategies of populist actors navigate social, economic and political realities?
  • How are common cultural memories placed into populist political narratives?

Referencing Rules With Samples

Scholarly journal article

  • Mulinari, Diana & Neergaard, Anders. (2014). “We are Sweden Democrats because we care for others: Exploring racisms in the Swedish extreme right.” European Journal of Women’s Studies, 21, 43–56.

Book chapter

  • Jungar, A. C. (2016), “The Sweden Democrats.” In: R. Heinisch and O. Mazzoleni (eds). Understanding Populist Party Organisation: The Radical Right in Western Europe. London: Palgrave. 189-219.


  • Yegenoglu, M. (1998). Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Newspaper – (news piece)

Newspaper (featured & columns)