Democratization Special Issue on Arab Uprising

We’d like to bring your attention to a new issue of Democratization focused on the Arab uprisings:

DemocratizationVolume 22, Issue 2, 2015, Special Issue: From Arab Spring to Arab Winter: Explaining the limits of post-uprising democratisation


This special issue of Democratization examines the consequences of the Arab Uprising for democratization of the Arab World. The Arab Uprisings that began in 2010 had, as of 2014, removed four presidents and seemingly made more mobilized mass publics an increased factor in the politics of regional states. It is, however, one thing to remove a leader and quite another to create stable and inclusive “democratic” institutions. The main initial problematic of the Arab Uprising was how to translate mass protest into democratization and ultimately democratic consolidation. Yet, despite the fact that democracy was the main shared demand of the protestors who spearheaded the uprisings, there was, four years later, limited evidence of democratization. This special issue explores various aspects of this question while, at the same time, comparing outcomes in three states, Egypt, Syria and Tunisia.

The introduction by Raymond Hinnebusch explores how far different starting points —the features of the regime and of the uprising–explain these pathways. Specifically, the varying levels of anti-regime mobilization, the ability of regime and opposition soft-liners to reach a transition pact, and the capacity of the authoritarian regime to resist are seen to shape outcomes. In the next article, Morten Valbjørn surveys the theoretical debates over democratization in the Middle East, considers the consequences of the Arab uprisings for the credibility of rival democratization and post-democratization paradigms and asks how re-conceptualizations can throw light on the actually existing politics in the post-uprising Arab world. Vincent Durac then examines anti-regime movements in the light of social movement theory, assessing how it enables us to understand their relative efficacy in challenging regimes but their inability to steer a democratic transition. Joshua Stacher examines the increased violence deployed by regimes to prevent such a transition, arguing that the outcome, the remaking of more coercive authoritarian regimes, denotes neither transition nor restoration to the pre-uprising period. Next, Frederic Volpi and Ewan Stein examine the third major category of players, variegated Islamists, assessing consequences of the relative balance between them for post-uprising politics. James Allison then examines the positive effect of a class balance, notably the relative efficacy and autonomy of workers’ movements, on democratic potentials. Adham Saouli assesses the opposite, negative scenario, the mobilization of communal identities by ruling elites and counter-elites. Raymond Hinnebusch focuses on the negative impact on democratization of competitive external interference inside the uprising states. In Hinnebusch’s conclusion, the combined effects of the agency of these forces and the political, cultural, and economic contexts in which they operate are summarized to understand three main divergent trajectories taken by the post-uprising states in Egypt, Syria and Tunisia.

Thanks to Raymond Hinnebusch for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *