Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Middle East is Not Ready for Democracy

Democracy is an ancient system. First conceived of in the city state of Athens, it has spread rapidly throughout the world. It is promoted by West as being the ideal political system that every country must adopt.

The way in which a country implements a Democratic system varies.  There are a multitude of factors that make a country become democratic. The main factors are: 1) Military Occupation, 2) Changing balance of power, 3) Globalization, 4) Changing political culture, and 5) Socio-economic development.

Following World War 1/2, Japan and many European countries have become democratic due to Military Occupation and the Changing balance of power. The collapse of the European empires allowed many of the former colonies in Oceania, Latin America, and the Indian sub-continent to embrace democracy or a hybrid regime. The next wave of democracy came with the fall of the Soviet Union. The most recent wave of democracy is said to be the Arab Spring.  The Arab Spring is the word the media uses for describing the civilian uprisings in North African and Arab countries that rebelled against the authoritarian regimes in place.  

After years of revolution, there has been very little change. The only countries that have shown progress are Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen.  Even in those countries, the government is weak and unstable. All of this begs the question: are they ready for democracy. Very few of the Arab and North African countries have a strong national identity. Rather they were political constructs created by the French and English. Even Egypt, which has a very long history hasn’t been able to sustain a stable government. Their democratically elected president was ousted by a military coup less than a year after being elected.  Can a country be democratic when a government gets ousted in just a matter of months?

This region has too much partisanship between groups, to the point of almost being tribal to generate a state strong enough to enforce and maintain democracy. These countries want a regime change but are not ready for democracy. Their national identity is simply too weak. In the years to come when people’s loyalties to their country increase in a region they might be ready for a true change.

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