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Freedom House Report 2013

Freedom House Report 2013

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Published by saharathawra

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Published by: saharathawra on Jan 31, 2013
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10/14/2013

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Freedom in the World 2013
DEMOCRATICBREAKTHROUGHSIN THE BALANCE
Selected data from Freedom House’sannual survey of political rightsand civil liberties
 
 
 
 F
REEDOM IN THE
W
ORLD
2013:
 
D
EMOCRATIC
B
REAKTHROUGHS IN THE
B
ALANCE
 
by Arch Puddington
 
As the year 2012 drew to a close, events in theMiddle East dramatized two competing trends:demands for change pushed forward by populardemocratic movements, and an authoritarianresponse that combines intransigence withstrategic adaptability.The ambiguous nature of these developments,combined with either instability or authoritarianretrenchment in other regions, had a significantimpact on the state of global freedom. Thefindings of 
Freedom in the World 2013
, thelatest
edition of Freedom House’s annual report
on political rights and civil liberties, showed thatmore countries registered declines than exhibitedgains over the course of 2012. This marks theseventh consecutive year in which countrieswith declines outnumbered those with im-provements. Yet the number of countries rankedas Free increased by three, and now stands at 90,suggesting that the overall ferment includes apotential for progress as well as deterioration.Developments in Egypt in particular encap-sulated a pattern in which gains for freedom inthe Middle East and North Africa (MENA) werethreatened by opposition from governments,security forces, ruling families, or religiouslybased political factions. In Egypt, the year wasnotable for a flawed but competitive presidentialelection, the withdrawal of the military from itsself-appointed political supremacy, and acontinued assertiveness by popular movementsin the face of antidemocratic threats. Despite theenergy of civil society and the shift to civilianrule, however, the country was confronted bydaunting problems, experiencing at varioustimes a campaign to hobble foreign and localnongovernmental organizations, the dissolutionof an elected parliament by the judiciary, afaulty process to draft a new constitution,resistance to change by entrenched elites, and apower grab by newly elected presidentMohamed Morsi that was only partially thwarted
 by mass protests. Finally, at year’s end the state
prosecutor announced plans to investigateleading opposition figures on charges of treason,and political commentators for allegeddefamation.As in the world at large, more countries in theMENA region endured declines than made gainsin their drive toward freedom in 2012.Aspirations for elections and accountablegovernment were often fiercely suppressedthrough arrests, imprisonment, police violence,and in Syria, a murderous war waged by thestate against its own people. However, there isreason to remain cautiously optimistic about the
region’s fut
ure. Events in Tunisia and Libya,
where popular uprisings before and after Egypt’s
had also expelled longtime dictators in early2011, were generally positive in 2012, even if each encountered challenges and setbacks.Moreover, the societal impulse to shake off autocratic rule, pervasive injustice, and rampantcorruption has clearly spread from Tunisia,Libya, and Egypt to neighboring countries.Much will depend on the commitment todemocracy of the Muslim Brotherhood and otherIslamist groups that now or may soon findthemselves in positions of power. But the pastyear has provided more evidence that Middle
Eastern countries long subject to the dictator’s
heel are quickly developing resilient andinformed civil societies willing to push back against attempts to curb freedom of expressionand thought, distort the electoral process, orconcentrate power in the hands of military orreligious authorities. In this context, factions orgovernments that seek to reduce freedom couldfind it increasingly difficult to do so.
Meanwhile, the world’s most powerful
authoritarian leaders have watched events in the

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