With the exception of Tunisia, all other Maghreb states, including Morocco and Algeria, are losing the battle for democracy in Africa

The classification of Maghreb countries in a report on the democratic state of the world, undertaken by The Economist Intelligence Unit, is not a source of satisfaction, except in the case of Tunisia which ranked 57 in the world, the best position that any Arab country has ever held in the history of international reports on democracy.

As usual, Nordic countries such as Norway, Denmark, Finland, and also Sweden, are occupying the top positions in The Economist’s annual report, published in January 2016. Most Western countries rank in the top 30 places. And, once again, Arab countries are occupying the lowest positions.

By region, Lebanon leads the rankings in the Middle East, and Tunisia in the Maghreb region. The latter country currently ranks in at number 57 among the 167 countries listed in the report. It is the best ranking achieved by any Arab country in the history of reports on world democracy carried out by any international body or Think Tank. Tunisia is in the group called “Flawed Democracies”, along with countries like Italy, France and Chile.

Staying within the Maghreb, Morocco ranks 107 and is in the group called “Hybrid Regimes”. This is the classification given to those countries that are not dictatorships but have yet to achieve a transition to democracy. In this year’s report Morocco managed to remove itself from the Authoritarian group it was included in last year.

The political situation has been deteriorating in Mauritania, so if last year it was ranked 112 and listed on the Hybrid Regime group, this year it is ranked 117 and it has now been included in the Authoritarian group. Algeria, as a country that lacks democracy, remains in almost the same position; last year it was ranked 117 and this year 118. The lowest ranking country in the Maghreb is Libya, occupying position number 153, but this country is living through special circumstances due to the the current civil war and to terrorism.

The Economist Intelligence Unit uses six criteria as the foundation of this report on democracy, which are: Overall Score, Electoral Process and Pluralism, the Functioning of the Government, Political Participation, Political Culture, Civil Liberties. Tunisia has achieved a very acceptable score, while the scores for the other countries have been disappointing.

Due to its proximity to Europe, the Maghreb region (except for Tunisia) should have a much better ranking on the African continent overall but more than 20 African countries are ranked higher than Morocco and Algeria in The Economist’s report. These are countries such as Senegal, Namibia, Zambia, Cape Verde and South Africa, and others, countries that were until recently governed by dictatorships.

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