Constraints on Government Powers
Factor 1 measures the extent to which those who govern are bound by law. It comprises the means, both constitutional and institutional, by which the powers of the government and its officials and agents are limited and held accountable under the law. It also includes non-governmental checks on the government’s power, such as a free and independent press. Governmental checks take many forms; they do not operate solely in systems marked by a formal separation of powers, nor are they necessarily codified in law. What is essential, however, is that authority is distributed, whether by formal rules or by convention, in a manner that ensures that no single organ of government has the practical ability to exercise unchecked power. This factor addresses the effectiveness of the institutional checks on government power by the legislature (1.1), the judiciary (1.2), and independent auditing and review agencies (1.3), as well as the effectiveness of non-governmental oversight by the media and civil society (1.5), which serve an important role in monitoring government actions and holding officials accountable. The extent to which transitions of power occur in accordance with the law is also examined (1.6). In addition to these checks, this factor also measures the extent to which government officials are held accountable for official misconduct (1.4).