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.