Political Institutions

Perceived linkages to politicians and group deprivation sentiment

The political reasons for why individuals perceive their group to be deprived are not well understood. This article proposes that individuals who perceive having linkages to political leaders are less likely to feel group deprivation. It is posited that such perception stems from politicians’ efforts to attract support through either credit-claiming or clientelism. Results from a survey in Lebanon show…

Do Female Local Councilors Improve Women’s Representation?

Tunisia’s 2018 municipal elections, in which a legislated quota was implemented and women won 47 percent of seats, raises questions about whether electing female councilors improves women’s representation in clientelistic settings. Using data from the Local Governance Performance Index (LGPI), an original survey of 3,600 Tunisians conducted in 2015 by the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD), this article…

Determinants of Arab public opinion on the Caliphate: Islamist elites, religiosity and socioeconomic conditions

What are the determinants of public opinion on the issue of the Caliphate in the Arab world? My answer to this question outlines the key role played by Islamist elites, religiosity and age in influencing Arab opinion on the issue of the Caliphate in three countries during the early Age of Islamism (1980s–1990s). I do so by using Binary Logistic…

Lebanese protesters don’t trust their government to reform. Here’s why.

In Lebanon, mass anti-government protests that started last Thursday are now a multiday general strike. These demonstrations appear to be the largest and widest-reaching in the country’s history. On Monday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri responded with proposed concessions, saying that protesters have shaken the political parties and challenged blind loyalties to sect. But protesters aren’t buying it. And while Hariri…

Autocratic checks and balances? Trust in courts and bureaucratic discretion

An emerging literature in political economy focuses on democratic enclaves or pockets of quasi-democratic decision-making embedded in non-democracies. This article first explores the factors that may lead to the emergence of such institutional checks and balances in autocratic politics. I use the comparative analysis of courts in Morocco and Tunisia, and argue that interest group mobilization and the centrality of…

Judges, bribes, and verdicts: How court experience reshapes attitudes about judicial corruption among Morocco’s most marginalized

When do citizens believe in corruption’s effectiveness? Using an original, nationally representative survey of 1201 Moroccan respondents, this article highlights the conditions under which citizens affirm (or deny) the importance of corruption to getting favourable decisions from public officials. Specifically, the survey centres on judicial corruption, finding that 76 per cent of citizens agree that bribing judges produces favourable verdicts….

The impact of the Arab Spring on democracy and development in the MENA region

In evaluating the consequences of the Arab Spring 8 years later, this paper not only focuses on the short‐term consequences of the uprisings that swept through a number of countries in the Middle East and North African region but also analyzes the long‐term prospects for democratization and development in the MENA region. The impact of the Arab Spring, despite its…

Infrastructure Provision, Politics and Religion: Insights from Tunisia’s new democracy

This paper analyzes the relationship between access to infrastructure services and support for religious parties based on the evidence produced by a recent democratic experience in Tunisia in which a religious political party, Ennahdha, governed from 2011 to 2014. The experience points to a complex relationship. In the 2011 election, areas with higher access are associated with higher support for…

Parties in an era of change: membership in the (re-)making in post-revolutionary Tunisia

In the current era of rapid and radical evolution in the institutions of partisan politics, one of the best-documented and most discussed changes in established and more recent democracies has been the decline of membership enrolment, and yet its resilience. By contrast, comparative research on Maghrebi political parties, and on this aspect in particular, has for a long time been…

Political Attitudes of Arab Citizens in North Africa

Theories of social capital, government performance, Islamic values, and globalization are among the most important tools that can be used to help explain individuals’ political attitudes. The present research attempts to address the effects of the above-mentioned factors on the political attitude of Arab citizens using the Arab Barometer Wave IV data. The results showed that only 23.2% of citizens…

Protests and the Arab Spring: An Empirical Investigation

This article discusses a variety of major explanations for the intensity of recent protests in Arab states and investigates whether there is empirical support for them. We survey various political, economic, and social factors and develop a comprehensive empirical model to estimate the structural determinants of protests in 19 Arab League states between 1990 and 2011, measured using events data….

Social Trust in the Middle East and North Africa: The Context-Dependent Impact of Citizens’ Socio-Economic and Religious Characteristics

Our knowledge of social and political trust’s drivers in the MENA region is limited and there are good reasons to expect that Western-based theories cannot be copied to the MENA one-to-one. Arguing for a broader and at the same time context-sensitive comparative approach, I translate the ‘societal winners’, social capital, and religious beliefs mechanisms explaining trust to the MENA context….

Do democratic revolutions ‘activate’ participants? The case of Tunisia

The democratic transition in Tunisia and free and fair elections that followed offer a unique opportunity to assess whether the experience of participating in successful political efforts translates into subsequent political participation. We consider whether participation in a democratic revolution is associated with greater rates of participation in nascent ‘normal’ democratic processes. Leveraging data from two surveys fielded in the…

Regionalism in New Democracies: The Authoritarian Origins of Voter-Party Linkages

We investigate the path-dependent effects of sub-national variation in authoritarian state-building policies on voter-party linkages after regime change. We argue that long-term patterns of regional favoritism and marginalization produce patterned regional heterogeneity in the attitudes and preferences linking voters with parties. Post-colonial state-building policies create “winners” and “losers” from particular interventions, in turn shaping local citizens’ preferences over these policy…

Never out of Now: Preference Falsification, Social Capital and the Arab Spring

Could the Arab Spring have led to a rise in support for authoritarian governments in some states? Discussions of revolutionary diffusion during the Arab Spring focused on whether expressions of discontent spread to different states. Such discussions, however, neglect the potential for there to be a decrease in expressions of discontent in the wake of spreading revolutionary sentiment in certain…