In the 2020 ranking of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EUI), Mauritius is ranked first, while Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is ranked 50th out of 50 African countries in terms of advancement of democracy.
In other words, it is the country where democratic expression is lower and less respected. This, in principle, should be a challenge to the political authorities, in the sense that they must observe democratic rules in the country.
At the bottom of the table, the Democratic Republic of Congo is accompanied by the Central African Republic and Chad.
The top trio is made up of Mauritius, Cape Verde, and Botswana.
The ranking indicates that Algeria, with a score of 3.77, moves from the category “hybrid democracy” to the category “authoritarian regime” from which it emerged in 2019.
The same is true for Burkina Faso and Mali, which now occupy the 26th and 23rd in African ranking and (116th and 111th in the world) respectively.
Among the biggest falls in the world rankings, is Togo whose score falls to 2.80, making it lose 15 places. It moves from 126th position to 141st place globally and 31st position to 39th place in Africa.
A situation which, according to the EIU, is essentially due to “a deeply flawed election and the subsequent repression of the opposition”.
Mali, for its part, recorded the second-biggest drop in the ranking, with 11 places lost.
Seven African countries are imperfect democracies. Fourteen are hybrids (halfway between authoritarian rule and democracy), while the remaining 28 are classified as authoritarian by the EIU.
However, while the rating criteria used by the institution may have been influenced by the peculiarity of the coronavirus year 2020, it is difficult to understand how Eritrea, one of the most closed nations in the world, nicknamed “North Korea of Africa”, can be considered more democratic than the Democratic Republic of Congo. Other examples, such as Burkina Faso’s ranking among authoritarian regimes on a par with Egypt or Afghanistan, or the Central African Republic’s ranking behind Syria or Libya, could also suffer from challenges.
The EIU notes that the decline in democracy on the African continent in general is mainly due to the deteriorating security situation in several countries and the covid-19 pandemic.
The advance of jihadism in West Africa, in particular, has led to the destabilization of states that have found it increasingly difficult to control their territories. “This has led to a deterioration in the relevant criteria for several countries in the category of functioning government,” EIU experts say.
In addition, contested elections in several countries led to poor performance in the category of electoral process and pluralism.
A situation compounded by the coronavirus has led to restrictive measures depriving millions of citizens of their freedom. To do so, it is based on five families of criteria: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation, and political culture.
The countries are thus classified according to four types of regime: “full democracy”, “imperfect democracy”, “hybrid regime”, and “authoritarian regime”.
Since 2006, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index has provided an overview of the state of democracy around the world for 165 independent states and two territories.