Democratization in the Arab World

Democratization in the Arab World: Prospects and Lessons from Around the Globe

Laurel E. Miller
Jeffrey Martini
F. Stephen Larrabee
Angel Rabasa
Stephanie Pezard
Julie E. Taylor
Tewodaj Mengistu
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 434
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  • Book Info
    Democratization in the Arab World
    Book Description:

    Daunting challenges lie ahead for Arab countries where revolutions have upended longstanding authoritarian regimes. This monograph aims to help policymakers understand the challenges ahead, form well-founded expectations, shape diplomatic approaches, and take practical steps to foster positive change.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7210-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xv-lii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. liii-liv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. lv-lx)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    As popular uprisings ignited in the Arab world¹ in early 2011, it was difficult even for dispassionate observers not to be moved. The phenomenon of protestors from all walks of life successfully revolting against long-entrenched autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia was nothing short of a remarkable human achievement. By the end of 2011, Tunisia had crossed the threshold of becoming an electoral democracy.² While this study was under way, ragtag groups of rebels steadily gained ground—with support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in their successful quest to push Libya’s dictator from power. By early 2012, a handover...

  10. PART I: Concepts and Context

    • CHAPTER TWO Democratization and Democracy Promotion: Trends, Theories, and Practices
      (pp. 9-34)

      To set the stage for this volume’s exploration of political changes under way in the Arab world and past transition experiences elsewhere, we begin with an overview of the global trend toward greater numbers of democracies. We also discuss the difficulty of measuring democracy as well as the approach we use to identify polities that do and do not qualify as democracies. To further provide context for what follows, we give an overview of the scholarly literature in which the analytical structure of this study is grounded, clarifying key concepts and highlighting principal themes along the way. Finally, we address...

    • CHAPTER THREE The Arab World on the Eve of Change
      (pp. 35-54)

      The Arab Spring presents many transformative opportunities for the region, but progress toward democracy remains precarious. Until the recent upending of authoritarian regimes leads to institutionalized democratic practices and real political power is exercised by representative and accountable parliaments, the Arab world will remain the only part of the world that has no consolidated democracies. Figure 3.1 illustrates the minimal level of democracy in the region on the eve of the Arab Spring. This chapter depicts the political context in which the momentous events of the Arab Spring suddenly occurred and discusses the conditions that have long kept autocracies frozen...

  11. PART II: From the Arab Winter to the Arab Spring

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Regime Transition in Tunisia and Emerging Challenges
      (pp. 57-78)

      It was in Tunisia that the self-immolation of Mohammed al-Bou‘azizi set off the wave of protests that led to the fall of President Zine El Abidine Ben ‘Ali and set the stage for the broader Arab Spring that followed. Although analysts had long questioned the stability of Arab regimes given their reliance on repression, the January 14th Revolution was surprising both in terms of the speed with which it unfolded and the fact that Tunisia was the first domino to fall. The patronage networks, internal security forces, and democratic façade that Ben ‘Ali spent 23 years constructing took just 29...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Regime Transition in Egypt and Emerging Challenges
      (pp. 79-106)

      After ruling Egypt for nearly 30 years and promising the Egyptian people he would be with them “so long as his heart beat,”¹ on February 11, 2011, President Hosni Mubarak was forced to cede power. Mubarak’s departure made him the second Arab leader to be ousted in less than a month and marked the shift from a whirlwind popular revolution that lasted just 18 days to what promises to be a much longer, and uncertain, political transition.

      The factors that are likely to condition the outcome of that transition and, specifically, to what extent it leads to a process of...

  12. PART III: Democratization Experiences Throughout the World

    • CHAPTER SIX Southern Europe
      (pp. 109-144)

      The transitions that took place beginning in the mid-1970s in Southern Europe—in Portugal, Greece, Spain, and Turkey—were the beginning of what has come to be called the third wave of democratization.¹ All four transitions, which were nearly contemporaneous, are considered to have been consolidated relatively soon after they were completed. However, the mode of the regime change differed in each case, each transition had different triggers, and the previous authoritarian periods differed in their nature and duration.² Figure 6.1 illustrates the changes in the percentage of democracies in the region and Figure 6.2 illustrates changes in each country’s...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Latin America
      (pp. 145-176)

      The trajectory of regime change in Latin America has been highly sensitive to exogenous factors and cyclical in nature, with countries alternating between democratic and authoritarian systems.¹ These cyclical patterns reflect contending threads in Latin American political culture: authoritarian and hierarchical political and social structures; democratic values and discourse rooted in the ideas of the Enlightenment and the American and French revolutions; and the development of middle-class sectors and the values associated with the middle class. In Latin America, those values include economic growth and increased economic opportunity, education, and political participation.²

      In the 1930s, the rise of Fascist movements...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Eastern Europe and the Post-Soviet Space
      (pp. 177-214)

      This chapter focuses on regime change in Eastern Europe and the Post-Soviet Space of Europe and Central Asia. The transitions in these two parts of the former communist bloc have had very different outcomes, but the transition problems in both areas have been similarly influenced by the legacy of Soviet rule. For the Central Asian states, this legacy has been more important than their geographic location beyond Europe’s perimeter.

      The change in the proportion of democracies in the region as a whole is depicted in Figure 8.1. This illustrates the region’s relatively steady progression from eight democracies out of 24...

      (pp. 215-250)

      As a geographically vast and highly diverse region, Asia, not surprisingly, encompasses a wide array of governance experiences. The majority of countries, including North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and China, has never embarked on a democratic course and remain under varying degrees of authoritarian rule. (See Figure 9.1, showing the fluctuations in the percentage of Asian countries that are democracies.) Less than half of the region’s population lives in democracies.¹ Among the countries that have experienced democratic transitions, the history, patterns, and durability of the transitions are quite diverse. Nevertheless, over the last five years, the Asia-Pacific region is the only...

    • CHAPTER TEN Sub-Saharan Africa
      (pp. 251-290)

      As in other regions hit by the “third wave” of democratization, sub-Saharan Africa experienced an unprecedented series of democratic transitions in 1990–1994. These events have been referred to as the “second independence” of some African countries, acknowledging the fact that the democratic record of most postindependence regimes left much to be desired.¹ Although a few transitions had happened earlier, some durable (e.g., Senegal in the 1970s) and some short-lived (e.g., Nigeria’s Second Republic of 1979–1983), they represented little more than exceptions on a continent where the typical regime was authoritarian, relied on single-party rule, and kept civil liberties...

  13. PART IV: Conclusions

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Lessons from Past Transitions and Policy Implications
      (pp. 293-342)

      Policies intended to foster democratization in the wake of the Arab Spring require an understanding of the conditions and decisions that are most likely to influence whether democratization will succeed. To deepen that understanding, we asked three questions: What are the main challenges to democratization in Egypt, Tunisia, and other Arab countries? How have countries around the world that transitioned from authoritarianism overcome or failed to overcome similar challenges? And how can the United States and the broader international community help transitioning countries overcome these challenges and strengthen their fledgling democracies?

      Answers to these questions are complicated because processes of...

  14. APPENDIX Detailed Data on Changes in the Number of Countries and Democracy Scores in Eastern Europe and the Post-Soviet Space, 1990–2009
    (pp. 343-346)
  15. References
    (pp. 347-374)