November 18, 2005.
Middle Eastern voters have embraced increased freedom There is a wide range
of democratisation across the Middle East, a survey by a leading research and
advisory firm has found.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked 20 countries on 15 indicators of
political and civil liberty.
The Index of Political Freedom lists Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Iraq and
the Palestinian Territories as the most democratic parts of the region.
Libya received the lowest rating, below Syria and Saudi Arabia.
The EIU scored each country on a 10-point scale, awarding one point for the
least political freedom and 10 for the most.
INDEX OF POLITICAL FREEDOM
Saudi Arabia: 2.80
The analysts found little evidence of democratisation in some countries.
Sitting at the bottom of the table, Libya has long had a reputation as one of the
world’s worst violators of human rights.
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s government has also long restricted
freedom of expression and independent political activity.
Saudi Arabia held its first ever exercise in democracy in February 2005 when it
held municipal elections, but remains an absolute monarchy that has resisted
pressure for reform.
Syria, meanwhile, is renowned for its authoritarian rule even though there has
been a degree of liberalisation under President Bashar al-Assad.
Though there are few surprises at the bottom of the table, the top five may
It contains three of the most volatile parts of the region: Lebanon, the
Palestinian Territories and Iraq.