Edinburgh Research Explorer

Explaining (and re-explaining) political change in the Middle East during the Arab Spring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-990
Number of pages22
Journal Democratization
Volume20
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Abstract

After the 2011 Arab Spring, a pressing concern is to understand why some authoritarian regimes remain in power while others fall when confronted with similar difficulties. Earlier representations of the success of authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa generated common misperceptions concerning politically effective behaviour in the region. These views, shared by local autocrats and international actors alike, led them to propose ad hoc policy reorientations in response to a contagion of popular uprisings. In their turn, these policy responses directly contributed to the failure of authoritarianism and the production of democratic revolutions in several countries of the region. Such revolutionary options, although structured by the (lack of) opportunities for contestation present in each polity, are not predicable events as they depend on elite mis-assessments of the situation to be effective (as in Tunisia, Libya). Reciprocally, when reform pathways are made available by authoritarian regimes, contestation can be channelled into non-revolutionary political action (as in Morocco, Algeria).

    Research areas

  • revolution, democratic transition, understanding, causality, Middle East, authoritarian politics

ID: 77464792