After the Arab Spring: Are Secular Parties the Answer?

Issue Date October 2015
Volume 26
Issue 4
Page Numbers 125-139
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

Read the full essay here.

After the “Arab Spring” and the initial democratic reforms in Turkey under the Justice and Development Party (AKP), why has democratic progress remained so elusive in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)? In recent years, that question has preoccupied numerous scholars, commentators, and policy makers. Behind most of their analyses, we believe, lurks an assumption that secular parties are intrinsically better stewards of constitutional liberalism than their Islamist counterparts. Yet have non-Islamist parties really been superior agents of democratic change? We test this by surveying secular parties in three countries: Egypt, Tunisia, and Turkey. In order to assess each party’s liberal credentials, we analyze each along four key dimensions: 1) history of exclusivist and statist positions; 2) ties to the military; 3) past political behavior; and 4) internal party democracy.

About the Authors

Mieczysław P. Boduszyński

Mieczysław P. Boduszyński, assistant professor of politics at Pomona College, has also served as a diplomat for the U.S. Department of State in Albania, Kosovo, Japan, Egypt, and Libya. He is currently writing a book about U.S. and EU responses to the “Arab Spring.” From 2015 to 2016, he returned to the State Department and served as political counselor at the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah, Iraq. All views expressed here are his own and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

View all work by Mieczysław P. Boduszyński

Kristin Fabbe

Kristin Fabbe is assistant professor of business, government, and political economy at Harvard Business School.

View all work by Kristin Fabbe

Christopher Lamont

Christopher Lamont is assistant professor of international relations at the University of Groningen.

View all work by Christopher Lamont