The Economist Intelligence Unit found a decline in democratic governments since 2008. In 2010 the report ranked 26 countries, 15.6% of the total as full democracies, 53 countries as flawed democracies, 31.7%, 33 countries as hybrid democracies, 19.8%, and 55 countries, 32.9%, as authoritarian. What the Unit found alarming was that the average scores between 2008 and 2010 declined for 91 countries out of the 167 in its Democracy Index. 48 countries saw an increase, and 28 stayed the same.
In the Middle East and North Africa the Intelligence Unit ranked twenty nations. None of them were full democracies, one was flawed, three were hybrids, and 16 were authoritarian. Israel was the one flawed government with an average score of 7.48, and was ranked 37 overall. Lebanon, score 5.82, Palestine, score 5.44, and Iraq, score 4.00, were the three hybrid democracies. Kuwait, Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt, Oman, Iran, Libya, Qatar, Tunisia, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia were all ranked authoritarian in that order. The average score for the region was 3.43 compared to 4.23 in Sub-Saharan Africa, 5.53 in Asia and Australia, 5.55 in Eastern Europe, 6.37 in Latin America and the Caribbean, 8.45 in Western Europe, and 8.63 in North America, firmly placing the Middle East and North Africa as the least democratic region in the world.
|Ballot box after 2010 Iraqi election|
Governments In The Middle East/North Africa (Avg. Score/Rank Overall)
Israel: 7.48 #37
Lebanon: 5.82 #86
Palestine: 5.44 #93
Iraq: 4.00 #111
Kuwait: 3.88 #114
Morocco: 3.79 #116
Jordan: 3.74 #117
Bahrain: 3.49 #122
Algeria: 3.44 #125
Egypt: 3.07 #138
Oman: 2.86 #143
Iran: 1.94, #158
Libya: 1.94 #158
Qatar: 3.09 #137
Tunisia: 2.79 #144
Yemen: 2.64 #146
UAE: 2.52 #148
Sudan: 2.42 #151
Syria: 2.31 #152
Saudi Arabia: 2.31 #152
Iraq is one of the few anomalies within the Middle East and North Africa. Despite its problems, it is one of only three hybrid democracies in a region that is thoroughly authoritarian. Iraq really needs to improve upon its governance however, if it wants to move up the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index. That will be hard to accomplish with this group of political elites. Too many are leaders from the Saddam era who were suppressed and sometimes cajoled by the former regime, which fostered a culture of secrecy and distrust. Many went into exile, came under the influence of the neighboring dictatorships, and are divided by sometimes decades long rivalries. That makes finding compromises difficult. That was on full display when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and former premier Iyad Allawi could not agree upon a government after the 2010 elections even though they had the most in common ideologically. Instead their personal differences were what dominated their negotiations, as neither was willing to let the other have power. These disagreements have wide ranging affects upon all kinds of issues throughout Iraq, and are a major barrier to further democratization.
BBC, “Iraq election voter turnout ‘62%,’” 3/8/10
Economist Intelligence Unit, “The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy 2010,” December 2010
Knights, Michael, “Iraqi Election Success? Not So Fast,” Foreign Policy Online, February 2009
Great summary, Joel. I bet in four years Iraq will have a score closer to Israel's thank Kuwait's.
Hey I heard about the report from your site!
We can only hope that Iraq's government improves. I'm afraid that this generation of leaders may be a detriment. Most importantly, we have to see how Maliki rules in his 2nd term.
I think the crucial test will be whether the next election is free and fair.
It is rather strange, don't you think, that Palestine scores 7.83 on electoral process and pluralism when it hasn't had an election since January 06 and has long passed the deadline when the next election was supposed to be held? And that Iraq only scores 4.33 in this category?
I don't know enough about the Palestinian Authority to make a good comparison with Iraq over their electoral process.
Well a quick google will refresh you that in 2007 Hamas chucked the PA out of Gaza and since then it has been impossible for the PA to hold either presidential or general elections. Which makes 7.83/4.33 very odd indeed.
And also raises questions over Palestine rating 8.33 for political participation and 4.38 political culture while Iraq only manages 6.11 and 3.75 by comparison.
On the face of it ridiculous, and makes one wonder about the other countries in the "hybrid democracy" category where Iraq has been consigned to the bottom.
I know about the conflict between Fatah and Hamas and how that has delayed elections, but I don't know the rest of the story.
The authors of the democracy report said that elections were only the most visible sign of democracy, and that they were going to count the other factors more.
So for example, Iraq has a wide range of news outlets, but most of them are controlled by political parties, are full of rumors, do little to no investigative reporting, and both Baghdad and the KRG have tried to limit them recently. Is the Palestinian press better or worse? In Palestine you have two competing entities in Fatah and Hamas who control their own territories. In Iraq there is no real opposition. The Change list was the first time a winning party decided not to be part of the winning coalition. How many social groups operate in Palestine? What was the voter turnout? In Iraq the premier has little to no checks and balances on his authority, how does that compare to Palestine's executive? I can't answer those questions so I don't know whether the comparison in the study had problems or not.
Just looking at the scores the reason why Iraq was at the bottom of hybrid democracies overall was because it received a 0.79 on governance, and I don't really have an issue with that given how dysfunctional Baghdad is.
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