Lebanon has been continuously losing its ranking on the annual democracy index.
After being labeled a Hybrid Regime in 2020 by The Economist’s Democracy Index (EDI) 2021, it is now labeled as an Authoritarian Regime, by the EDI that was released on February 2nd, 2022.
This label means that Lebanon, under its current political regime, has become a nation where political ‘democracy’ has been extremely limited.
Lebanon has lost points in 3 of 5 characteristics. The first is related to the effectiveness of the state; the second criterion is related to political participation; and the third is freedoms, which declined due to the massive arrests that took place in 2021.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s index of democracy is a 0 to 10 scale, and based on the ratings for 60 indicators, grouped into 5 categories, including electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture.
Adjustments to the category scores are made if countries do not score a 1 in the following
critical areas for democracy: Whether national elections are free and fair, the security of voters, the influence of foreign powers on government, and the capability of the civil service to implement policies.
The index is used to place countries within 1 of 4 types of regime:
- Full democracies: scores greater than 8
- Flawed democracies: scores greater than 6, and less than or equal to 8
- Hybrid regimes: scores greater than 4, and less than or equal to 6
And consequently, Authoritarian regimes: scores less than or equal to 4, with Lebanon scoring 3.84 (with Burkina Faso) in 2021 after being 4.16 in 2020.
The regression in 2021 came as a result of sharp deteriorations for Lebanon (one of the higher scorers in the region) because of political turmoil. Thus, Lebanon’s downgrade from a “hybrid regime” to an “authoritarian regime”.
Lebanon is not the only country classified as Authoritarian.
17 of the region’s 20 countries, including Lebanon, are now classified as “authoritarian” by The Economist’s Democracy Index: Palestine, Kuwait, Algeria, Qatar, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iran, Yemen, and Syria.
The Economist commented that protest movements in Lebanon “have failed to bring about meaningful democratic change.”
It indicated that “Lebanon experienced a notable deterioration in its score, partly as the power of interest groups related to Lebanon’s sectarian political system continued to grow.”
Lebanon’s scores also deteriorated on a part of the broader regional trend “as a result of the worsening perceptions of democracy and rising support for military rule.”