The Economist Intelligent Unit’s ‘Democracy Index 2019’ provides a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide for 165 independent states and two territories. From full democracy through to authoritarian regime, you can now use the latest index to find out where your country ranks by reading their free report.
This annual survey rates the state of democracy across 167 countries based on five measures: electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture, and civil liberties. Already know where this is going?
Lebanon has prided itself on its tailored ‘Consociational Democratic’ model for years now, which is “a political system formed by the cooperation of different social groups on the basis of shared power,” according to Oxford.
But what kind of democracy is it effectively in application? The Economist’s latest Democracy index finds that democracy “has been eroded around the world in the past year.” And it has definitely been eroded in Lebanon for longer.
The global score of 5.44 out of ten is the lowest recorded since the index began in 2006. Just 22 countries, home to 430 million people, were deemed “full democracies” in the report. Topping the list by rank are Norway, Iceland, Sweeden, New Zealand, and Finland.
More than a third of the world’s population, meanwhile, still live under authoritarian rule. (On a side note, the United States was classified as a ‘Flawed Democracy.’ Throwing that in here before everyone’s ‘imperialist chants’).
In regards to Lebanon, the report addresses its recent unrest explicitly as follows: “Rising popular frustration with the political status quo in several countries led to growing public protests in the MENA region in 2019, including in Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Sudan, continuing a trend that started in 2018.”
It continued explaining, “These protests led to regime change in some countries or elections in the less authoritarian systems. In other countries, populations joined demonstrations to express dissatisfaction with the slow pace of political and economic change.”
Labeling Lebanon as a ‘Hybrid Regime’, the report goes on to stress: “Even in countries whose overall score has slipped, as in Lebanon, local populations are once again taking direct action. Lebanon’s already poor score for the functioning of government slipped further in 2019, as did its score for political culture.”
The report further points out: “The Lebanese public has become increasingly frustrated by a succession of governments presiding over a system in which confessional and other powerful interests determine the allocation of resources and long-term policy planning and financial management.”
It goes on stressing that this state of affairs has harmed Lebanon’s economy and politics and brought the country closer to a full-blown financial crisis.
Addressing the issue of government formation the report read: “Widespread and prolonged protests led to the resignation of the government and renewed pledges of reform. The prime minister Saad Hariri resigned and Hassan Diab was made prime minister-designate at the end of December.”
Protesters have not left the street, and Lebanon still has a long way to go in the areas of electoral laws, general elections, and an overall corruption overhaul amid its financial crisis. So at this point, we will take things day by day.
The report wraps up its section on Lebanon on a positive note: “Nevertheless, the peaceful and broadly non-sectarian nature of the protests offers some hope that in the longer term Lebanon can move beyond the highly flawed political accommodation created after the end of the civil war in the 1990s.”
Let’s hope that the protests, especially in Beirut, revert to the peaceful stance the revolution has been adamant to maintain for three full months, making such a powerful statement of our uniqueness as a nation that can revolt without violence.