The Egypt Democracy Compass is designed to provide a snapshot of the country’s trajectory, either toward or further away from a truly democratic system, over the preceding calendar month. Each of the eight topical categories receives a status designation—Backsliding, Stalled, Progress, or Achieved—based on recent developments regarding the listed goals for that category. The reasons for each designation are explained in a brief summary of major events or trends. It should be acknowledged that while some of the specified goals could be achieved almost overnight, others may take years to accomplish. The purpose of this tool is simply to determine whether Egypt is headed in the right direction.
New ‘Egypt Democracy Compass’ Shows Disturbing Setbacks Since Coup
August 1, 2013 — Freedom House today launched the Egypt Democracy Compass, a monthly assessment of Egypt’s trajectory toward democracy in the wake of the July 3 military coup. The initial findings showed that, despite the military authorities’ pledge of a rapid transition to democracy, Egypt had suffered declines on six of the eight key indicators measured by the compass.
“These are disturbing trends,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. “It’s too early to draw any final conclusions, obviously, but the justification for the coup was that Egypt was suffering a drift towards authoritarianism under Morsi. Our analysis, as reflected in the Egypt Democracy Compass, shows significant decline in most of the country’s democratic institutions,” Kramer added.
The Egypt Democracy Compass will assess progress in eight key components of democratic transition: the constitution, elections, political participation, civilian control and security-sector reform, media freedom and freedom of expression, religious freedom, peaceful assembly and civic activism, and judicial independence and rule of law.
At the beginning of each month, the project will summarize developments in these categories and assign a status—backsliding, stalled, progress, or achieved—to indicate the direction in which the country is headed.
“In an environment of high political tensions, ongoing demonstrations, and frequent outbreaks of violence, it can be easy to lose track of the bigger goal of building the foundations of a democratic system,” said Vanessa Tucker, director of analysis at Freedom House. “The Egypt Democracy Compass will be an indispensable tool for journalists, policymakers, and Egyptians themselves in better understanding the trajectory of change in the areas that matter most in a democratic transition.”
The Democracy Compass’s first assessment, which covers the period from the July 3 coup through the end of the month, reflects the extent to which severe political polarization, media bias, and escalating violence have stalled or rolled back progress toward democracy.
Six of the categories assessed were deemed to have exhibited backsliding since the new government came to power, and two—the constitution and the electoral process—have yet to show significant progress.
“The July compass indicates that progress in these key areas of democratic performance is going to require far more than mobilizing crowds,” Kramer said. “An immediate halt to the ongoing violence, much of it at the hands of the Egyptian military and police, is the essential first step toward political reconciliation and a democratic transition based on broad popular consensus.”