In Doha, 61% of respondents said the Arab Spring was positive or somewhat positive and 27% said it was negative or somewhat negative.
The majority of the Middle East and North Africa region are in support of democracy and the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions, the 2022 Arab Opinion Index (AOI) revealed on Tuesday.
Conducted by the Qatar-based Arab Center for Research & Policy Studies (ACRPS), the survey is the biggest of its kind on a regional level and saw 33,300 respondents from 14 countries in the MENA share their perceptions on numerous policies concerning them.
Looking at the region’s perceptions towards democracy, 72% of respondents said they are in favour of democratic rule in comparison to 19% who were against it. Figures in support of democracy were highest among the levant and North Africa region.
ACRPS found that 85% of respondents are able to define democracy with content, with 34% of citizens in the Arab region saying it is “a guarantee of political and civil freedoms.”
A total of 20% others defined democracy as “a guarantee of equality and justice among citizens”, whereas 14% placed emphasis “on participation and the institutional aspect of a democratic system”.
Six-percent said democracy is “a guarantee of security and stability”, and 5% defined it as “improving economic conditions.”
“The results show an increase in the percentage of those who defined democracy as participation and the institution of democratic governance (circulation, separation, and oversight between authorities), especially in countries such as Egypt, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, and Sudan,” the report explained.
A majority of 53-70% expressed their rejection of authoritarianism, military rule, and limited democracies.
While most citizens of the Arab region reject negative remarks surrounding democracy, there is still a divide over the area’s preparedness for democracy.
Evaluating democracy, respondents said that it is halfway there with a 5.3 score out of 10.
“This score has declined since the last AOI in 2020. Citizen assessments of the level of democracy as measured by their ability to criticise their governments (between 1 and 10) shows that this ability is limited: 5.8/10. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Palestine received the lowest scores here,” the report read.
Post-Arab Spring perceptions
Such perceptions come more than a decade since the Arab world witnessed a wave of uprisings in protest of dire situations and oppressive governments. The movement, which became widely known as the “Arab Spring”, was triggered in Tunisia before spilling over to other countries,
The Arab Spring later bloomed its way to Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, and Sudan.
ACRPS found that since then, 46% of respondents still view the mass revolutions as very or somewhat positive, as 39% other said they were very or somewhat negative.
In Qatar, 61% of respondents said the Arab Spring was positive or somewhat positive and 27% said it was negative or somewhat negative. The remaining 12% of Qatar’s respondents either said they did not know the answer or refused to respond.
In Kuwait (76%) and Egypt (73%) the majority of respondents said the Arab Spring was positive.
“The results show that popular opinion is divided about the present state and future of revolutions. While 40% of respondents stated that the Arab Spring is facing obstacles but will ultimately achieve its goals, 39% believe that it is over and that the old regimes have returned to power,” the report added.
Last year, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani noted that the socio-economic and political issues that sparked the Arab Spring like “poverty, unemployment, unemployed graduates” continue to be unresolved.
“Poverty, unemployment, unemployed graduates… have we solved these problems? No, on the contrary, they have worsened. If we don’t address them, the events that they caused may repeat themselves,” Amir Tamim told French magazine Le Point in September last year.