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Can all nations become democracies?

Swedish Research Council


IMAGE: Max Rånge and Mikael Sandberg are the first in the world to analyze, from the 18th century until today, all countries' political systems. view more

Credit: Halmstad University

The answer can be found in MaxRange, which is the world´s largest data set on all countries´ political systems from the 18th century until today. MaxRange was created from research conducted at Halmstad University showing that an analysis of history can help explain today´s world of unrest.

- Our analysis of MaxRange shows that democracy does not emerge from nations, but is spread between them. All types of non-democracies can consequently become democracies in the end. We've also concluded that prosperity has, in the long run, a much greater role than religion when it comes to democratisation, says Mikael Sandberg, professor of Political Science at Halmstad University.

Mikael Sandberg and Max Rånge, political scientist at Halmstad University, are the first in the world to analyse the political regimes of countries over a longer period of time. Apart from the conclusions that Mikael Sandberg mentions, they have also been able to conclude that Muslim nations are slower than others in embracing democracy; however, this is only applicable to the period of time after the cold war. The reasons for this are still not known in detail and will need further analysis.

- Globalisation has added a new dimension to the changing of political processes. We hope that our continued research will lead to more knowledge regarding a country's prospects of democratisation, says Max Rånge.

About MaxRange:

The research project at Halmstad University, as well as the data set, is called MaxRange after its creator Max Rånge. In 2001, Max Rånge started dividing the European countries after type of regime and defined them after levels of democracy, and institutions. The project grew to include the entire world and since 2006, changes and data from all nations in the world have continually been updated. Today, 200 regime types have been defined and graded on a scale from 1 to 1,000, based on the level of democracy and political accountability in the new MaxRange2 version of the dataset. MaxRange2 also assembles values for every state and month from 1780 to 2014. This constitutes approximately 240 states and 2,700 months or, in other words, roughly 650,000 unique values.

Max Rånge and Mikael Sandberg began their cooperation in 2011, and shortly thereafter Max was associated to the Halmstad University. The MaxRange data set was further adapted to standards used for statistical analysis and research. The research aims to study the global change in political systems.


For more information concerning the MaxRange research project and details on how the data set is built and analysed, go to

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