University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The Study of Democratization and the Arab Spring
The Arab Spring refers to the wave of protests and demonstrations which involved both violent and non-violent protests, civil wars and riots in the Arab World. This mainly occurred between December 2010 and mid-2012. Some of the main causes of the Arab spring are Arab Youth, Unemployment, Ageing Dictatorship, Corruption, social media and the contagion effect (ICAT, 2014).
Arab Youth: Demographic time bomb- the Arab regime was sitting on a demographic time bomb for several decades in that. According to the United Nations Development program, the Arab population had doubled mainly from 1975 to 2005 (Manfreda, 2014). As a result, the political and economic development in most of the Arab states could not sustain the growing population. The incompetence had the effect of laying the seed of their own death.
Unemployment- the Arab World is has a very long history of struggling political change from Islamist radicals to leftist groups. The 2011 uprising can significantly be attributed to the widespread discontent over low living standards due to unemployment (Manfreda, 2014). Numerous University graduates were angered by this and thus accelerated the revolt.
Ageing Dictatorships- Economic situation is only likely to stabilize over time under a credible and competent government. However, by the 21st century, most of the Arab dictators were bankrupt both morally and ideologically (Manfreda, 2014).
Corruption- In most Arab countries, the state development gave rise to crony capitalism and, as a result, it only benefited a small minority in the country mainly the political class (Manfreda, 2014). For example in Tunisia, no development project could not be closed without a form of “kickback” to the Country’s ruling family.
Social Media – In countries such as Egypt, the first mass protest was mainly announced on Facebook by an “anonymous group of activists” which managed to attract over tens of thousands of individuals. During the uprisings in various countries, the media proved to be a significant mobilization tool which even outwit the police (Manfreda, 2014).
Contagion Effect- When analyzing the Arab Uprising, one cannot leave out the contagion effect. After the downfall of the Tunisian Dictator, the protests spread to almost each and every Arab country within a month. This later led to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak who was one of the most powerful leaders in the Middle East. This later led to the spread of the uprising to the other countries (Manfreda, 2014).
Hindrance to Democratization
Socioeconomic conditions and other cultural factors in the mass public can be highly attributed to the slow pace of democratization in Arab Spring affected countries. Scholars have highlighted the long run continuity of crucial cultural and socio-economic factors that significantly impact on the political outcomes such as the voting alignments (Ahmed & Capoccia, 2014).
The second factor is that most of the transition government attribute restoration of security to be one of the main challenges to effective democratization. This has led to reshuffle in various security dockets before thorough democratization takes place. For example, in Egypt, restoring public order and ensuring that the citizens are secure is a necessary precondition for effective transition to democratization (Paciello, 2011).
Constitutional reform is a crucial issue so as to be able to ensure effective democratization in most of these Arab countries, this is because most of them were former Dictatorial forms of government and thus it is important to implement effective constitutional reforms especially on democracy so as to avoid a repeat of the same (Paciello, 2011).
Ahmed, A., & Capoccia, G. (2014). The Study of Democratization and the Arab Spring. Law and Interdisciplinary Governance Journal, 1-31.
ICAT. (2014). The Arab Uprisings:Causes, Consequences, and Perspectives. International Conflict Management, 1-27.
Manfreda, P. (2014). The Reasons for the Arab Spring. Retrieved from About news: http://middleeast.about.com/od/humanrightsdemocracy/tp/The-Reasons-For-The-Arab-Spring.htm
Paciello, M. C. (2011). Changes and Challenges of Political Transition. Geopolities & Governance, 1-34.