Debate: Arab, Not Muslim, Exceptionalism

Issue Date October 2004
Volume 15
Issue 4
Page Numbers 140-46
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The non-Arab Muslim world has exhibited a much higher degree of electoral competition than the Arab Muslim world, both over time and in the contemporary period. 396 million Muslims, about half of the world’s Muslim population who live in Non-Arab League Muslim majority states, live in states with competitive elections. By contrast, none of the 270 million Muslims in Arab League member states live under electorally competitive regimes. Arab League member states have increasingly become a distinctive political community within the Muslim world, while non-Arab Muslim majority states are a far more diverse group. As such they are more open to a range of political communities, and consequently to international election observers and other initiatives promoting democracy.

About the Authors

Alfred Stepan

Alfred Stepan is the founding director of Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion (CDTR), and author (with Juan J. Linz) of Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe.

View all work by Alfred Stepan

Graeme B. Robertson

Graeme Robertson, professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the author of The Politics of Protest in Hybrid Regimes: Managing Dissent in Post-Communist Russia (2011).

View all work by Graeme B. Robertson