LONDON - Morocco has kept the top spot in the Arab Democracy Index for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Tunisia and Jordan, according to a report developed by the Arab Reform Initiative (ARI) and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, in partnership with 10 research centres in the Arab world.
ARI director Bassma Kodmani said that “much has changed in the Arab region during the preparation of this report. However, the overall decline in the Arab Democracy Index was largely expected due to the decrease or closure of the freedoms that were opened to the Arab communities in 2011.”
“It is now clear that the optimism that accompanied the Arab Spring revolutions triggering breakthrough in the process of democratic transformation was misplaced,” said Kodmani.
Ten Arab countries were included in this ranking: Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
The report took into consideration many indicators to measure the progress in democratic practices, freedom of expression, respect for citizens' rights, enforcement and transparency in the work of governmental organizations.
Kodmani noted that Arab leaders still believe that they can only enact legal provisions to satisfy their people in formality without applying them in practice, and to continue their positions by circumventing and rejecting the spirit of democracy.
“The leaders’ intransigence and the inability of state institutions to ensure democratization may pose the greatest threat to the slight and fragile progress of some indicators,” she said.
The report, which is based on surveys conducted in 2015, stressed the urgent need to bolster supervisory functions in the political system, parliamentary accountability capabilities, respect the judiciary’s independence and control the functioning of the security services.
It also recommended supporting the role of women in the labour force, reforming education and giving more freedoms to the media to participate effectively in the development of public debate and in the awareness of citizens.
The ranking of countries surveyed as follows, on a scale of 1000 points:
1. Morocco 735
2. Tunisia 690
3. Jordan 640
4. Kuwait 631
5. Algeria 589
6. Palestine 538
7. Lebanon 532
8. Egypt 503
9. Bahrain 436
10. Saudi Arabia 419