Democratization almost stagnant in Egypt, says report

CAIRO: Democracy in Egypt has deteriorated slightly since 2006 and the spread of democracy globally has come to a halt, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) 2008 democracy index.

"The results of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2008 confirm that, following a decades-long global trend in democratization, the spread of democracy has come to a halt," the report reads.

Egypt has slipped down to 119 in the index of 167 countries from its position of 115 in 2006 — the last time the index was issued.

Its overall score dropped very slightly from 3.90 to 3.89.

Democracy was measured for the index using 60 indicators spread over five

categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture.

Each category has a rating on a 0-to-10 scale. The overall index of democracy is provided by the average of the five category indexes.

The index values place countries within one of four types of regimes: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.

Egypt’s score places it amongst authoritarian regimes together with 49 other countries including China, Iran, Zimbabwe and North Korea, which occupies the index’s bottom position with a score of 0.86.

Sweden tops the index with an overall score of 9.88, scoring 10 in everything except "political culture" in which it received a score of 9.38.

While Egypt’s score in the "electoral process and pluralism" category was unchanged in 2008, its scores in both the "functioning of government" and "political culture" categories dropped.

In contrast, its score in the "political participation" category doubled and its "civil liberties" score also went up.

"Comparing the results for 2008 with those from the first edition of the index, which covered 2006, shows that the dominant pattern in the past two years has been stagnation. Although there is no recent trend of outright regression, there are few instances of significant improvement. However, the global financial crisis, resulting in a sharp and possibly protracted recession, could threaten democracy in some parts of the world," reads the report.

The EIU also suggests that US foreign policy under the Bush administration, and infringements of civil liberties in Western countries have undermined democracy-promotion internationally.

"A key factor is the delegitimizing of much of the democracy-promotion agenda, which has become associated with an internationally very unpopular US president and military intervention. A combination of double standards in foreign policy (autocrats can be good friends as well as foes) and growing infringements of civil liberties has reduced the effectiveness of Western governments’ calls for democratization."

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