Separating Religion from Politics: the Future of Egyptian Democracy

Ammar Maleki
27 July 2012

One year after the fall of Arab dictators, Islamist political parties have emerged victorious in the first democratic elections in both Tunisia and Egypt. With this success, the question “what is the prospect of democratic change in Muslim countries after the Arab Spring?” is more pertinent than ever.  One of the main concerns regarding the future of democracy in these countries is centered on the ambiguous role that religion, particularly the sharia, will play in both national politics and newly enacted laws. In other words, how will these countries and, specifically, Egypt under newly elected President Mohamed Morsi, accept the separation of mosque and state and where will the borders between the two lie?
This article seeks a tentative answer to this question. By undertaking a comparative analysis of public attitudes in five Muslim countries, I seek to identify a model that new Muslim democracies, particularly Egypt, can use to sustain their democratic character.
While the two ends of the political spectrum represented by Turkey and Iran are often at the center of discussions on Islam and the modern nation state, these are not the only options on the table for those Muslim countries in transition to democracy. Selected for discussion here are five countries that each have their own unique cultural traditions, but represent a continuum of political development: Turkey, Indonesia, Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran.
This article will examine the relationship between religion, society, and the state in two relatively new, but established democracies (Indonesia, Turkey), two countries in transition from authoritarian rule (Tunisia, Egypt), and one country still struggling for democracy (Iran).  Analyzing and comparing public attitudes and beliefs in these countries may provide a sense of the best and most viable path to democracy for Muslim countries in transition.

Demand for Democracy
Although some political scholars argue that democracy and Islam are incompatible (e.g. Huntington, 1993 ), recent examples of democratization in populous Muslim countries contradict these claims.  For instance, Turkey and Indonesia both have been recognized (by Freedom in the World 2012 , as well as the Economist Democracy Index 2011 ) as enjoying better functioning electoral democracies over the past decades. Despite these achievements, the gap between electoral and deeply embedded, civic democracy still exists in these countries, although the trend toward democratization remains promising.
The first question regarding democratic change is whether popular demand for democratic government exists. When asked about the importance of a democratic political system (in two waves of the World Value Survey  in 2000 and 2005), more than 80% in Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt, and Iran answered affirmatively in favor of democracy.
In answer to a similar statement that “democracy is preferable to any other kind of government” (Pew Survey, 2010 ) or the position “democracy, whatever its limitations, is better than any other political system” (Arab Barometer, 2011 ), 71% in Egypt, 89% in Tunisia, 76% in Turkey, and 64% in Indonesia gave a positive answer (no results were available for Iran).
Moreover, when respondents were asked whether a country’s national constitutions should guarantee civil rights (in this instance freedom of speech), an overwhelming majority in Egypt, Indonesia, Iran and Turkey agreed. A similar survey by Gallup showed strong support in these countries for protecting freedom of religion and assembly in the drafting of democratic constitutions (Mogahed, 2006 ).
As these results show, all in all, the public demand for democracy and democratic civil rights over the past decade has been remarkable in these surveyed Muslim countries.

Models of Separation
To answer the main dilemma of this article, namely how to separate the voice of the people, vox populi, from that of God, vox dei, we must first distinguish between different forms and varieties of secularization.
Considering a well-known theory of secularism (Casanova, 1994) , we can distinguish three types of secularization or three kinds of “separation”. The first (imaginary) type of secularization is that of “pure secularism,” in which God has died and religion becomes a myth separated from the voice of the people (e.g. the French model). The second type of secularization is “societal secularism,” in which religion is privatized and separated from public life. Secularization at the level of society can be top-down or bottom-up. The third type of secularization is “political secularism,” in which secular modes of governance separate religion from political power. While these three types of secularization may not always accompany each other, they may appear within one country in various overlapping ways. For example, the secularization of the state does not automatically imply the decline of public religion.
In order to evaluate the popularity and feasibility of these three types of secularism in Turkey, Iran, Indonesia, Egypt, and Tunisia, public attitudes toward the following three issues will be analyzed separately: the importance of religion, the public practice of religion, and the relationship between religion and politics.

(1) Importance of Religion
Studies have shown that religion is an important aspect of life in all five Muslim countries.  Both Gallup (2010) and the World Value Survey (2000-2005) reported that well over 80% of individuals in Indonesia, Egypt, Iran, Tunisia, and Turkey agreed with the statement “religion is an important part of my daily life.” Some scholars have taken these numbers as unpromising evidence for the emergence of real, secular political governance in Muslim countries.
Although these figures eschew the plausibility of establishing “pure secularism” in Muslim societies, the value attached to religious life in these countries does not per se circumscribe how people will understand the role of religion in the societal and political spheres.

(2) Public Practice of Religion
Although there are challenges to evaluating the importance of religion’s social role, questions from a 2010 Gallup survey may help demystify this issue. In this poll, respondents were asked to rate the frequency with which they visit a place of worship or attend religious services. The results reveal the popularity of the public practice of religion, which may provide indications about the importance of religion’s societal role.
Results show that significant majorities of respondents in Indonesia (79%) and Egypt (61%) engage in the public practice of religion at least once a week. On the other hand, in Iran (45%), Turkey (42%), and Tunisia (36%) less than half of respondents indicated that they attend religious services. The results of a similar question from theWorld Value Survey  in 2005 show virtually similar results for four countries (Egypt, Indonesia, Iran and Turkey).
When comparing these numbers to the figures on the importance of religion, results suggest that for a majority of respondents in Turkey, Tunisia, and Iran religious practice is a private matter. While it would be premature to speak of the existence of “societal secularism” in these countries in any strong sense, these results do suggest varying degrees of “societal secularization” in these states.
Considering Turkey’s history of secularization, low figures for public religious practice in the country is unsurprising. However, the results from Iran are striking. Despite the government’s lasting efforts to Islamicize all aspects of social life, the majority of Iranian respondents do not attend public religious services. Because societal secularization is never completely autonomous and independent from modes of governance, the increasing privatization (of religion) in Iran may be a reaction to the imposition of Islamic practices by the state.
Finally, given the popularity of public religious practices in Egypt and Indonesia, one might argue that “societal secularism” – the style of governance most similar to Turkey – would be an inappropriate model of secularism for these two countries. However, the public practice of religion cannot per se reject the plausibility of a separation of religion and state.

(3) The Relationship between Religion and Politics
For many, the future of democracy in transitional Muslim countries, like Egypt and Tunisia, turns on the relationship between religion and politics. Many believe that if Islam plays a dominant role in politics then civil rights and liberties will be seriously harmed and democracy will soon become theocracy. The case of the Islamic Republic of Iran is usually cited as evidence of this outcome.
The public attitude in Muslim countries toward the separation between religion and the state can be evaluated from aGallup  poll in which respondents were asked whether “Sharia must be the only source of legislation.” A majority of respondents (66%) in Egypt gave an affirmative answer to this question, the highest response rate among the Muslim countries surveyed. By contrast, support for this view was low in Indonesia (14%), Turkey (7%), Iran (13%) and Tunisia (17%), suggesting that in these countries separating religion from politics is popular.
This is further confirmed by results from the World Value Survey  of 2005, in which respondents were asked whether religious authorities within a democratic country should have authority to interpret the laws (shown in the figure below). In Turkey, Indonesia, and Iran (no result was available for Tunisia) the response to these questions were nearly equal to those from the Gallup poll. Moreover, in another survey question by Gallup in 2006 , a small percentage of respondents in Indonesia (24%), Iran (26%) and Turkey (16%) supported a direct role for religious leaders in drafting the country’s constitution (Mogahed, 2006 ).

Implications of Public Attitudes
The survey results cited here have descriptive as well as predictive implications. Descriptively, while public attitudes in support of “political secularism” in Turkey and Indonesia are congruent with the separation between religion and politics existing in these countries, the popularity of “societal secularism” in these states remain quite different. In terms of predictive implications, public attitudes in Tunisia and Iran, both of which have already undergone a significant process of societal secularization, suggest that “political secularism” could take root in these two countries. Finally, while “pure secularism” may be impossible in Muslim countries today, and although attitudes toward the separation of religion and societal life or “societal secularism/secularization” are ambivalent, “political secularism” could be implemented in Muslim countries. Those who are too skeptical about the possibility of any“separation” in Muslim societies are normally biased towards “pure secularism” or “societal secularism”.
At the same time, the analysis of public attitudes toward religion and politics in Turkey, Tunisia, Iran, Indonesia, and Egypt demonstrate that there is no single generalizable approach to the appropriate role of religion in society and politics in Muslim countries. This diversity in attitudes is not only prominent between Muslim countries with different cultural backgrounds, but within Arab countries (Tunisia and Egypt) with more similar cultural profiles. As such, approaching Muslim countries as homogenous entities is misleading and counter-productive to understanding Islam’s compatibility with democracy.

Conclusion: the Future of Democracy in Egypt
Because of societal divides on the role of religion in politics, the prospects for democratization in Egypt remain murky. The results of a very recent survey by the Pew Research Center indicate that a majority (61%) of respondents preferred to base the role of religion in Egyptian politics on a “Saudi Arabian model” rather than a “Turkish model”(Pew Global Attitudes Project, 2012). Although this preference might indicate a rejection of Turkey’s “societal secularism”, aforementioned figures in support of the dominant role of religion and sharia in politics may also make observers skeptical about the future of democracy in Egypt.
Based on these poll results, if Egyptians do not institutionalize a separation between religion and government, a theocracy, akin to the Iranian model, may emerge which would abridge the same civil liberties that Egyptians overwhelmingly support.
When he wrote his famous book on The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, Fareed Zakaria was skeptical about the future of democracy and political secularism in Indonesia.  He believed after Suharto political Islam would emerge in Indonesia and threaten the secular character of the country (Zakaria, 2003). For three decades, Suharto had suppressed Islamic groups and encouraged societal secularism. Indeed, after Suharto, Indonesia became societally de-secularized. People were able to practice their faith openly and Islamic groups found themselves able to operate publicly. Nevertheless, to a great extent, political secularism remained strong in the country.
Since publishing the book in 2003, Zakaria has revised his former skepticism, recently writing: “Ten years ago most people thought Indonesia wouldn’t even exist as a country after (President) Suharto fell … It was poor. It had the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism, extremism and jihadi groups. But the democratic political system stabilized the country. It provided vents and escape valves for some of these tensions”. He added, “Indonesia is still a pretty complicated place with a lot of corruption, dysfunction and some problems of Islamic extremism. But, by and large, it has been a stable democratic country with economic reform.” Zakaria proposed this model for Egypt and concluded, “I think that’s not a bad model for Egypt and I think if Egypt could get there – which is quite possible – it would be amazing progress for the country” (Zakaria, 2011). Zakaria’s proposal may, in fact, be a realistic and pragmatic option for Egypt.
While the Turkish model of societal secularism may be unworkable for Egypt, a path forward may be provided by the Indonesian model, in which the public presence of religion is respected while its separation from politics is guaranteed. Whatever the inspiration, past experience shows that, in practice, a version of “political secularism” is necessary to stave off the rise of theocratic rule in Muslim countries. Egypt’s future may hinge on this realization. A famous Iranian proverb says, “do not examine what has been already examined”. Let’s hope the Egyptians will apply it.

*After his studies in Mechanical Engineering at Tehran University, Ammar Maleki studied Policy Analysis at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands. He is currently a PhD candidate at the Tilburg School of Politics and Public Administration, doing comparative research on the relation of cultural values and models of democracy, with a focus on new democracies in Muslim countries.

* *Acknowledgement: I would like to gratefully thank Pooyan Tamimi Arab and Dominic Bocci for their kind review and constructive comments.

Published in Muftah.org

Uprising in Syria and Comparative Indicators
Ammar Maleki
 26 September 2011

Uprisings in the Arab World have surprised people around the world and especially those political analysts who had assumed that there was no desire for democracy and freedom among Arab people, and that Arabs were not seriously dissatisfied with their dictators. While uprisings have rapidly spread into each and every single dictatorship in the region, a question arises: what are the common causes in these revolts?

Using the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy[1], I wrote an article after the Tunisian revolution[2] in which I extracted and defined a comparative indicator that could explain a common factor for the uprisings in the region’s countries from Iran to Tunisia and from Egypt to Syria. One of the advantages of this indicator is that its extraction has been based on objective data and credible public opinion surveys and not just on abstract ideas. A reliable indicator, in general, is one which has the ability to explain the incidents, and in addition, can anticipate plausible incidents in the future. The mentioned indicator has both of these features as it was proved reliable in understanding the Tunisian revolution, and by that we could predict the emergence of similar uprisings in Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria after they took place in Tunisia.

This indicator, which can be called the index of “scarcity of democracy”[3], represents the difference between the “supply of democracy” by governments and the “demand for democracy” by people. If in a society, the level of demand for democracy is much higher than the level of supply of democracy, the potential for discontent and protest would be higher. So the pro-democracy uprisings aim to reduce the gap between the supply and demand of democracy. Figure 1 shows the index of “scarcity of democracy”, the mentioned gap, for countries with unrest in the region (and some other Muslim countries).

As the above figure shows, the gap between the levels of supply and demand of democracy in Syria is one of the highest in the region. In Tunisia and Libya, which have had a comparably high level of scarcity of democracy, people revolted and removed their dictators over past months.  In the meantime, similar uprisings in other countries - namely Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Morocco – have occurred that resulted in the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt and some political reforms in other countries, such as freedom of political prisoners, the promise to abdicate and etc. Also in Iran, about a year before the Arab uprisings, Iran was the scene of massive protests against the state which gradually formed a civil movement. This movement was suppressed harshly by the government and has declined to some extent, but it can still be seen and traced in different forms of protests.

Regarding the Syrian uprising, two remarkable and outstanding features distinguish it from other protests in the region. The first is the continuation of civil resistance despite the brutal and continued government suppression of the Syrian protestors. In comparison, when non-violent protests in Iran were suppressed by the government, people set back and left the street protests, unlike Syria. But despite the bloody crackdown by Bashar Asad’s regime in Syria and the killing of at least 100 non-violent protestors per week[4], demonstrations continue to take place six months after their began. Although several factors (e.g., the spirit of martyrdom, Arab pride, the fear that Asad would massacre all dissidents if he survived the revolt, etc.) can play a role in the resilience of the protests, I believe the key factor of the endurance of resistance in Syria is the spirit of social solidarity among people. To support this, I would like to employ an objective indicator. In one of the questions in global public opinion surveys by Gallup, the respondents are asked, “If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them or not?”.  The response to this question is considered to be the indicator for the “perception of social support” by Legatum Institute which annually publishes a prosperity index.[5] The result of the public survey by Gallup in 2010 (before the uprisings) indicates that 90% of Syrians say “Yes” to the above question, while only 62% of Iranians had a positive response. Moreover, 82% of Tunisians, 77% of Egyptians and 72 % of Libyans said yes to this question (see Figure 2).[6] The high level of this indicator in Syria shows the existence of a remarkable social solidarity which may give hope and encouragement to those who decide to participate in protest demonstrations despite risks and dangers involved. In contrast, saying like “don’t endanger yourself since nobody will care if something bad happens to you” would be rampantly whispered in those countries with lower level of social support.

The second significant feature of the Syrian uprising is that despite the brutal suppression and bloodshed against the non-violent resistance of people, protestors have not converted their non-violent methods to a violent approach. In Libya such a change took place much earlier. It can even  be argued that in Libya the appeal for international military intervention by protesters and the opposition was made very early compared to Syria, while Syrian protesters have till now tried to resist resorting to non-violent methods and have confined themselves to  street demonstrations while  requesting international diplomatic pressure on Asad’s regime. Again we can list several factors and causes for this difference; however, I prefer to utilize another indicator to explain this issue. The indicator, which  I call “confidence in the effectiveness of peaceful means”, is grasped from the question, “Can oppressed groups improve their situation through peaceful means ALONE?” (upper case emphasis by the survey). The results of a Gallup survey, which was conducted before the uprisings, indicate some considerable implications for countries in the region (see Figure 3). In Egypt 60%, Tunisia 52% and Syria 50% of respondents believed in “peaceful means alone”, while in Libya this stood at 41% and in Iran at 38%.[7] The higher perception of effectiveness of “only non-violence” in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria might result in the continuation of peaceful demonstrations whereas in Libya the struggle became violent after a couple of weeks (We should not forget that the period of struggle in Egypt and Tunisia was much shorter than the one in Syria).

Another remarkable indicator for comparing these countries is “the social acceptance of military attacks on civilians”. For this issue, people are asked “Whether the attack of military to target and kill civilians can be sometimes justified or whether it is never justified”. Results of the Gallup survey in 2010 show that 87% of respondents in Tunisia, 83% in Egypt and 86% in Yemen said that military attack on civilians is never justified while, 59% in Libya and 67% in Iran have given the same answer.[8] Unfortunately, this indicator has not been measured in Syria. This considerable difference shows that in countries like Libya and Iran (and probably Syria) a larger part of society can accept and justify the attack of armed forces on civilians. This could be a reason why in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen we have observed the impartiality of military forces against protesters whereas in Libya and Iran (and in Syria) the military has attacked people.

In Syria, even though Syrian people have been protesting non-violently so far, their patience cannot last forever. The result of a recent opinion survey, which was conducted after the Syrian uprising, shows that among 144 countries, Syrian people occupy the highest rank of people who experienced anger, worry, stress and sadness in their daily life (in response to the following question : “Did you experience Anger/Worry/Stress/Sadness during A LOT OF THE DAY yesterday?”).[9] Therefore, it seems unlikely that Syrian people would withdraw from their struggle before the dictatorship falls. Their very high level of anger however, may lead to a change in their method of struggle.

In conclusion, as long as the “scarcity of democracy” exists in authoritarian regimes in the region, the emergence of uprisings to end dictatorships is inevitable. Even If protests appear to have subsided in some countries, fire shall erupt from the ashes. Without filling the gap between the demand and supply of democracy, sustainable state of stability is unimaginable. In order to reduce the gap, the favorite option of dictators is trying to reduce the demand for democracy within the public. Fortunately, this option is not possible anymore because of modern communication tools and widespread public requests for democracy. Therefore, the only possible solution for filling the gap and strike the equilibrium is to increase the supply of democracy. As a result, when an authoritarian regime does not allow people to participate in making decisions for their destiny, people will rise for their rights as we see happening in Syria. Undoubtedly, it will not be long before Syrian people, with their social solidarity, public will and commendable resistance will close the gap in the “scarcity of democracy”, and will become a model for the other countries in the region.  

[1] Two indicators out of five sub-indicators of The Economist Intelligence Index of Democracy which are used in this analysis are: 1-Electoral Process and Pluralism, 2-Democratic Political Culture. For more information see: The Economist Intelligence Unit's index of democracy 2008.
[3] I should emphasize that everywhere in this analysis that I use the term of “democracy”, I do not mean a Full Democracy but a system in which the free election and pluralism is accepted. That is why we see in Figure 1, there is no gap of “scarcity of democracy” in Iraq, but definitely it does not mean that an effective and sustainable democracy exists in Iraq.
[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14620671
[5] Perceptions of Social Support: Percentage of people who have someone to count on hhtp://www.prosperity.com/prosperiscope/Definitions.aspx
[6] Retrieved from the Gallup WorldView database in April, 2011
[7] Retrieved from the Gallup WorldView database on September 3, 2011
[8] Retrieved from the Gallup WorldView database on September 3, 2011
[9] Retrieved from the Gallup WorldView database on September 3, 2011

Uprisings in the Region and Ignored Indicators
Ammar Maleki
8 February 2011

What are the underlying factors of the uprising in Tunisia and protests in other countries of the region? Economic problems or political dissents? Although most of the time in such a social predicament the combination of factors plays a role, however, one could ask that which one of economic or political parameter does have an upper hand? and which indicators could help us to have a plausibly objective analysis?

A Glance on Economic and Developmental Indicators

About the Tunisian revolution some believe that it has had roots in economic problems like unemployment and poverty. Another group of analysts relate the protests to the political dissent from the dictatorship. The former have referred their arguments to the initial spark of protest, the suicide of a Tunisian young man who set himself on fire because of the unemployment problem. Despite the fact that it was a shocking start for the movement, yet, reported figures paint a different picture about the economic situation in Tunisia. As illustrated in Table 1, the analysis of various economic and developmental indicators unveils the fact that not only the records of Tunisia are not poor in comparison to its neighbors and other countries1 in the region but in many aspects, Tunisia has a better position. The figures show that Tunisia has better ranking in GDP per capita, Human Development Index, inflation rate, population below poverty line, literacy rate and corruption index than Egypt, Algeria and Yemen. Even in all of these indicators, except GDP and literacy rate, Tunisia is better or almost equal to South Africa and Turkey. Also the unemployment rate in Tunisia, considering the situation in some developed countries like Spain, is not drastically high. Thus, in general, it can be claimed that the economic problems in Tunisia could not be the main fuel of rage to topple the regime.

Now, the question arises on how we can examine other plausible reasons that are linked to the political situation. Regarding the political condition, sometimes a skepticism attitude is seen, questioning the desire of people in these countries towards democracy and whether or not they will appreciate it.
The general belief among some political analysts and many people in the world is that the undemocratic regimes in that region are supported by their nation and there is no reliable indicator to convince them otherwise. But is this a genuine argument or are there indeed any operational indicators that can explain the political factors of a recent uprising in Tunisia and similar protests and movements in the region?

Indicators to Measure the Demand and Supply of Democracy
In order to answer the above question, I will identify some political indicators by which we could plausibly analyze and explain the emergence of such protests. Since 2006, the Economist Intelligence Unit started to produce a biennial report about the state of democracy in 167 countries. They generated an index called “Democracy Index” which is calculated by averaging scores of five defined categories (which in turn are scored in the scale of 0 to 10 based on 60 items2). The score of Democracy Index for each country determines the type of political system in that country; classified as, full democracies (8-10), flawed democracies (6-8), hybrid regimes (4-6) and authoritarian regimes (<4).
Among five categories3, ”Electoral Process and Pluralism”(EPP) measures to what extend the election process is free and fair, how transparent is the allocation of power ,and how acceptable; and whether citizens are free to form political and civic organizations. Another category is “Democratic Political Culture” (DPC) by which the societal acceptance and degree of popular support for democracy is evaluated in a country. In fact, these two are indicators to measure the level of support for democracy by the power-holders and by the citizens respectively. The average score of these two categories for countries in four types of political system are shown in Table 2.

As it is seen and expected, the average score of EPP is extremely low for authoritarian regimes, whereas, the variation between average scores of DPC is surprisingly low. Indeed, the high average score of DPC for full democratic countries is evident to an expected sign of established democracy. However, when comparing the DPC’s averages of other types of political systems, an important truth is revealed, in countries with authoritarian regimes the demand for democracy is not overly lower than in countries with democratic regimes. Therefore, it can be argued that if the score of DPC (demand side of democracy) falls around 5.78 - average score published for democratic countries - yet at the same time EPP(supply side of democracy) is scored at the low end, occurrence of a conflict between nation and the government is very plausible. Meaning that a wanted democracy which is not given by the government will be asked by people, sooner or later, violently or nonviolently!

In case of Tunisia and other unrest countries, the reported democracy indicators are as presented below (Table 3), but what are the implications of these numbers?!

We can observe from the table that whereas in those authoritarian regimes the electoral process is completely disrupted, there is a considerable demand for democracy according to their scores of DPC. In case of Tunisia, the score of DPC is 5.63 which is close to the average score of this indicator for democratic countries (5.78). It is interesting that many countries in the region namely Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Libya, Morocco and Iran –except Saudi Arabia - have almost similar score of DPC. In the following figure, the scores of two indicators for aforementioned countries are illustrated and accordingly the gap between the demand and supply of democracy can be evidently observed.

Now a better analysis can be presented on why in recent months and weeks in some of these countries, such as Iran, Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, we have been observing several movement, uprising and demonstrations. No matter what the initial spark of protest is, either unemployment, poverty or fraudulent election, the underlying demand in all demonstrations has quickly been defined as changing the undemocratic system. If these scores can show a part of the truth at least, then it can be anticipated that the other countries like Morocco, Algeria and Libya can also face the same protests sooner or later.

The Message of Indicators for Dictators

These political indicators have a serious message for all authoritarian regimes in the region and their allies. The case of Tunisia, in which the economic figures are relatively acceptable, reveals that relying on the positive trend of economic development cannot guarantee the stability of the power position of a dictator. As important as having eyes on economic indicators, is to have an eye on those political indicators which show the volume of the public demand for having a voice and the power of choice. Watch out the numbers dictators!

1) Spain and South Africa, in addition to other countries in the region, are purposefully mentioned in order to have representatives of all types of political systems
2) The items are determined by experts’ assessments and public opinion surveys. For more information please see “The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy 2008”
3) Five categories are: 1-Electoral Process and Pluralism, 2-Functioning of Government, 3-Political Participation, 4-ِDemocratic Political Culture, 5-Civil Liberties

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