The Meanings of Democracy: What Arabs Think

Issue Date October 2010
Volume 21
Issue 4
Page Numbers 131-138
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This paper tries to shed light on the meaning of democracy in the Arab World. Many have stipulated that Arabs, because they lack democratic governance, tend to have a vague conception of democracy if they hold one at all. Accumulated empirical data drawn from survey research in the Arab World strongly challenge and refute these assertions. Indeed, Arabs have a relatively sophisticated understating of what constitutes democracy. Whether democracy is measured directly or indirectly, it is widely recognized in association with civil liberties, political rights and power rotation. Hence, Arabs are no exception to the global popular understanding of democracy.

About the Author

Fares Braizat is associate professor of political science and head of research at the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute, Qatar University. He was formerly a researcher and coordinator of the polling unit and deputy director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan–Amman. He coordinates surveys throughout the Arab world, including the Arab Democracy Barometer and the World Values Survey.

View all work by Fares Braizat