Having spent his academic and personal life devoted to democracy, Josh Muravchik’s latest book analyses the development of democracy, with particular emphasis on the Muslim world. With democracies around the world increasing exponentially in the last quarter of the 20th century, the author points out that the Middle East region and other Muslim countries are lagging behind in the democracy race. According to his research, 75% of countries in the non-Muslim world are democracies, against 20% of democracies in the Muslim world and less than 20% in the Middle Eastern area (according to Freedom House data).

In his analysis, data suggests that there is a high association between levels of income and education with democracy in most countries, but in the Muslim world that association doesn't seem to hold. The discussion here reaches its main issue: why is it harder for Muslim countries to attain democracy? If this question is very difficult to answer, one thing the author seems sure of is that the difficulty of democracy to penetrate Muslim countries is not due to Islam, since there are a few countries where Islam and democracy co-exist. Yet, the question remains unanswered.

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the importance of issues of democracy in Muslim countries cannot be overstated. If democracy is more widespread in non-Muslim countries, those recent events signal that countries at the heartland of the Muslim world are progressing towards democracy. Muravchik thus reviews with cautious optimism the situation in Tunisia and Egypt, and hopes that these countries can find their own way towards democracy.

The discussion was moderated by Legatum Institute President and CEO, Jeffrey Gedmin.

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