What is the most democratic Arab country?



Using measurements of majority-rule, human rights, liberties, gap between highest and lower classes, which is the most 'democratic' Arab country today?


Posted 2015-07-20T09:51:14.373

Reputation: 425

Since Israel has a large Arabic population and is in the Arabic region: Israel. – Martin Schröder – 2019-10-13T22:03:01.927

9Income disparity (gap between highest and lower classes) is usually not considered a factor for democracy. – Philipp – 2015-07-20T12:44:32.527

Perhaps you mean which Arab country is most like a western liberal democracy? – lazarusL – 2015-07-20T13:57:18.000

@lazarusL not really, I mean mostly the level of participance and control people have over their political life. If a country is democratic in a non-western way, it's defenitely of an intereset – Roy – 2015-07-20T18:32:33.640

2I see. I would emphasize majority rule in your question then. While human rights, liberties, and income equality are characteristics of many contemporary democracies; monarchies can have those things and republics can ignore those things. For example the USA doesn't emphasize income equality, the English monarchy respected the rights and liberties of its subjects long before republicanism was the dominant force, and "Republican" revolutionary France frequently ignored human rights and liberties. – lazarusL – 2015-07-20T18:51:24.870

Tunisia is currently the only arab country that can be qualified as "democratic", and only so since approximately 2 years. Unfortunately it's still a relatively weak and unstable democracy, but we can pray and hope for the best for the future, hoping its neighbours will follow the same path. – Bregalad – 2015-07-20T21:02:38.440

2@Philipp I'd disagree that income gap is not a factor of democracy. If the income gap is so high that there is some people living in luxury surrounded by many people starving, there is high chance there is something wrong with democracy too. – Bregalad – 2015-07-20T21:04:00.180

4@Bregalad Income disparity tells you how socialist or capitalist a country is, but not much about how democratic it is. The ginny index of the United States, for example, is about the same as such "shining democracies" as Turkmenistan, Qatar and the aforementioned Tunisia. – Philipp – 2015-07-21T07:29:27.607

2@Philipp While you're probably right in conventional (western dictated) terms, an extreme income gap might indicate that the equal distirbution of resources - not income, but resources, including governmental resources like tax cuts, education etc., is not democratically controlled by the public. – Roy – 2015-07-21T09:02:21.540

@Philipp - 100% wrong. Income disparity (if you look at income as actual standard of living as opposed to mere accounting #s) was much higher in socialist countries than capitalist ones. It becomes astronomically worse for socialism once you take into account paid-for-by-taxpayers 100% state of the art medical care for the poor in most Western democracies, such as Medicaid in US (the cost of medical care available "for free" to the poor absolutely dwarfs the amount of monetary compensaton). – user4012 – 2015-07-27T02:58:27.473

@user4012 socialism and capitalism aren't on opposite ends of one spectrum. You can have socialism and capitalism at the same time. – None – 2016-02-05T17:26:07.593

@blip - in theory, yes. My comment specifically referred to actual purely, or at least mostly, socialist countries (e.g. USSR). – user4012 – 2016-02-05T17:44:06.290

Ah, though then that brings up the entire debate as to what socialism is (and was the USSR actually socialist). – None – 2016-02-05T18:08:25.863



Democracy is hard to quantify, so I am trying an argument from authority and base my answers on the assessments of an organization which knows far more about politics and did far more research than me.

The Economist Intelligence Unit is a think tank which compiles an annual democracy index where they assign a democracy rating to each country. Factors considered in their rating system are:

  • electoral process and pluralism
  • civil liberties
  • functioning of government
  • political participation
  • political culture

The rating is a number between between 10.0 and 0.0.

  • 8.0 and above is considered a "full democracy" (24 countries)
  • 7.9 to 6.0 a "flawed democracy" (52 countries)
  • 5.9 to 4.0 a "hybrid regime" (39 countries)
  • below 4.0 an "authoritarian regime" (52 countries).

The 2014 results of the arab countries ordered from worst to best were:

Syria        1.74
Saudi Arabia 1.82
Sudan        2.54
U.Emirates   2.64
Yemen        2.76
Bahrain      2.87
Djibouti     2.99
Oman         3.15
Egypt        3.16
Qatar        3.18
Comoros      3.52
Jordan       3.76
Kuwait       3.78
Libya        3.80
Algeria      3.83
Morocco      4.00
Mauritania   4.17
Iraq         4.23
Palestine    4.72
Tunisia      6.31   

Source for these numbers: wikipedia

As you can see, the EIU considers Tunisia by far the most democratic of the Arab countries, but still only a "flawed democracy" and still far away from a "full democracy".

For comparison some numbers from some non-arab countries:

North Korea   1.08 (lowest in the world)
China         3.00
Russia        3.39
Brazil        7.38
India         7.92 
United States 8.11 
Germany       8.64
Norway        9.93 (highest in the world)


Posted 2015-07-20T09:51:14.373

Reputation: 55 858

2Odd that Lebanon didn't feature in this list. – Michael MacAskill – 2019-01-29T22:48:12.623

Why isn't Lebanon listed? Out of all of them other than Tunisia, it is one of the best according to the Index. – Stormblessed – 2019-09-09T04:16:48.403

I was about to answer, citing these numbers, but you beat me to it. +1 – Publius – 2015-07-21T00:11:17.233

1Tunisia is a Muslim country, but not an Arab one... – SJuan76 – 2015-09-21T07:16:40.773


@SJuan76 I was following the list from the Wikipedia article Arab World which considers Tunisia an arab country. When you think that this is wrong, you might want to address this on wikipedia itself instead of dealing with me as an intermediate.

– Philipp – 2015-09-21T07:24:28.973