By Ayesha Ulhaq
By Ayesha Ulhaq
Rabat – Morocco was among 38 countries that experienced a slight increase in its Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) 2016 Democracy Index score.
The country also ranked 4th in the MENA region, behind Israel, Tunisia, Lebanon.
Reflecting the world’s current discontent with governments, legislatures, political parties, state institutions and political elites in general, this year’s report was titled “Revenge of the Deplorables.”
The 9th edition of the index found that the 2016 average global score fell to 5.52, from 5.55, in 2015. According to the report, major changes in politics across the globe have led to this overall decrease. Key changes include the election of Donald Trump and Brexit referendum, which result in the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Covering most of the world’s population, the EIU Democracy Index report accounts for 165 independent states and two territories.
Each country is scored on indicators in five important categories; electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture.
This score classifies each country to be under one of four regimes: a “full democracy,” a “flawed democracy,” a “hybrid regime,” or an “authoritarian regime.”
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
The MENA region as a whole, was politically stagnated as many countries moved more in favour of greater authoritarianism than full democracy in 2016. Examples of countries with an authoritarian regime are Sudan and Syria, with Syria ranking second from last in the global ranking.
For the MENA region, the most disappointing outcome of the year was Tunisia, which dropped a significant 12 places to the 69th position in the global ranking, after being “widely regarded as having been the sole democratic success of the Arab Spring.”
The report recognized “marginal improvements” made by Egypt, Morocco and Iran. Although Morocco is still classified as a “hybrid regime,” the October 2016 parliamentary election elevated Morocco’s position slightly, moving up in the ranking by two places.
This was due to the 2016 election providing better female representation in the legislature. Women in Morocco secured more than 20% of its legislative seats, which represents 81 female candidates in the lower house (Chamber of Representatives).
United States of America
The U.S. generally tends to perform well in democracy rankings, but it fell behind in comparison to other Western countries, especially countries in Northern Europe.
A major change noted in the report for 2016 is that “the US fell below the threshold for a “full democracy” in 2016 and is now considered a “flawed democracy.”
The change in score and type of regime is due to the lack of confidence that the nation has shown in its government over the past few years. The Pew Research Centre claims that public trust in government has declined since the events of 9/11.
Moreover, Donald Trump’s presidency has also led to the public’s frustration with its democratic institutions and representatives. The article notes, however, that “Trump’s candidacy was not the cause of the deterioration in trust but rather a consequence of it.”
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)
Most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are considered to be under “authoritarian regimes.” This has been a fact since The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index launched.
Countries in Sub- Saharan Africa have improved in terms of political participation and, because of this, the region has made some democratic progress.
“While elections have become commonplace across much of the region, the regional score for electoral processes has remained persistently low, reflecting a lack of genuine pluralism in most countries.”
Although in 2017, it will be likely that there will be an increase in democratic progress, “much of the region will continue to be characterized as deeply entrenched one-party states that go through the motions of holding elections without providing the freedoms necessary to promote genuine democracy.”