Tag Archives: Arab Spring
The below are excerpts from an article originally appearing in World Politics Review.
The conditions for revolt or revolution to spread throughout society are reasonably well established: First, the national government must be closed to broad participation or popular control. Second, the government must be weakened by some sort of crisis. This crisis may be a material one, such as a military or development failure, fiscal distress, sustained inflation or sharp spikes in food prices. Or the crisis may be ideological, as when a government seeks to impose an ideology that is widely opposed by its own elites, or when a government is seen as compromised by identification with foreign enemies. Or it may be a succession crisis that leads elites to shift allegiances and contend for power in a coming leadership change. Several of these items may combine to create a widespread sense of uncertainty and anxiety about the future.
In such periods of social anxiety, a great deal depends on which groups are willing to support the regime and which groups still perceive the leadership as legitimate. Governments that are perceived as just and effective generally retain the support of key elites and thus popular groups; they are therefore quite resistant in the face of . . . challenges. On the other hand, states that are widely considered ineffective or unjust by their population rapidly lose key supporters and can succumb with astounding quickness in the face of challenges — as in the Philippines in 1986, the Soviet Union in 1989 and Tunisia and Egypt in 2010-2011. (more…)
They argue for inclusiveness and the importance of electoral design to stability, equity, and institution building, all essential to democracy and development.
Religion has played an important part in the Arab Spring, either as a ideological influence behind calls for change or, more recently, as a major force in elections. Islamic parties already dominate the political scene in Tunisia and Egypt, and will likely do so anywhere else democracy allows a free vote.
Most Westerners assume that that these trends can only end up hurting the region. For them, religion is a major cause of the problems that plague the Middle East, and greater secularism is essential for democracy and progress. But such notions show just how little outsiders understand the region, its dominant faith, and the political dynamics driving change from Morocco to Iran. (more…)