Political Institutions

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…

Implicit Attitudes toward an Authoritarian Regime

Existing research on public opinion under authoritarianism focuses on the deliberative half of cognition. Yet in psychology, implicit attitudes and subconscious associations are often viewed as foundational, the basis for explicit attitudes and behavior. This article adapts the well-known Implicit Association Test to study Egyptian citizens’ attitudes toward President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Roughly 58% of respondents hold positive implicit attitudes…

Down and Out: Founding Elections and Disillusionment with Democracy in Egypt and Tunisia

Which electoral losers become the most disillusioned with democracy following the first free and fair elections? Exploiting surveys before and after founding elections in post-Arab Spring Egypt and Tunisia, we find that the most disillusioned losers were those residing in areas where the losing parties were strongest. We argue that expectations matter. Losers whose parties are strong locally tend to…

Poverty and Divine Rewards: The Electoral Advantage of Islamist Political Parties

Political life in many Muslim‐majority countries has been marked by the electoral dominance of Islamist parties. Recent attempts to explain why have highlighted their material and organizational factors, such as the provision of social services. In this article, we revive an older literature that emphasizes the appeal of these parties’ religious nature to voters experiencing economic hardship. Individuals suffering economic…

The myth of stability in Algeria

The image of Algeria as an island of stability in an otherwise turbulent region was shattered, once and for all, when mass protests erupted in mid-February this year, after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would run for a fifth presidential term, despite having been seriously disabled ever since he suffered a stroke in April 2013 and rarely appearing in…

Disentangling an Elusive Relationship: How Democratic Value Orientations Affect Political Trust in Different Regimes

The question whether democratic values are on the rise or in decline has received much attention in political-culture research. Yet, few scholars have studied the consequences either of these trends has for political trust. Although political trust has long been attributed a central role for the functioning and stability of any political system, we still know little about the relationship…

What We (Do Not) Know about the Diffusion of Democracy Protests

In “Why Democracy Protests Do Not Diffuse,” we examine whether or not countries are significantly more likely to experience democracy protests when one or more of their neighbors recently experienced a similar protest. Our goal in so doing was not to attack the existing literature or to present sensational results, but to evaluate the extent to which the existing literature…

How humiliation is fueling the Arab street

…Consequently, many Arabs say in surveys that they wish to emigrate or are thinking about this. The Arab Barometer project that surveys the entire region every few years recently released the results of its 2018-19 fieldwork. In a June 2019 report entitled Migration in the Middle East and North Africa, by Michael Robbins of Princeton University, it noted that about…

Ben Ali: the Tunisian autocrat who laid the foundations for his demise

…..Still not out of the woods Following the initial euphoria after he went into went into exile, Tunisians have become increasingly disillusioned with their government. In the most recent survey by Arab Barometer in late 2018, 79% of adults thought that government performance was poor, 92% that the state of the economy was bad and 90% that the government was…