The Status of Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East: Does Regime Type Make a Difference?


The collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War have been accompanied by the spread of democracy, advancement in human rights, and the introduction of market reforms throughout the world. The Middle East has been no exception to this trend. There, in response to mounting economic crises and domestic pressures, several governments introduced democratic and economic reforms. This article investigates the progress that Middle East states have made on the path to political liberalization. In particular, it explores whether democratic reforms vary between regional republics and monarchies. To do so, the study analyzes patterns and trends associated with the distribution of political authority and human rights. The article employs five dimensions in this process, including electoral procedural democracy, liberal democracy, personal integrity rights, subsistence rights, and economic freedom. On the one hand, our findings comport with the view that Middle East states have not made significant progress toward institutionalizing procedural democracy and civil liberties. On the other, they lend support to the notion that liberalization is occurring in the region, particularly among monarchies.

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Middle East, human rights, democracy, authoritarianism, economic freedom, press freedom

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