July 12, 2012

The Missing Piece In Arab Democracy

More than a year after the 2011 uprisings, Arab publics are concerned about the economy, but hopeful about democracy.

By Richard Wike, Associate Director, Pew Global Attitudes Project
Bruce Stokes, Director of Pew Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center

Special to Foreign Policy

In Egypt, Mohamed Morsy, the country’s first civilian president, is locked in a power struggle with his generals. To the west, votes are still being counted, but it looks as if rebel political leader Mahmoud Jibril will be responsible for unifying post-war Libya and bringing rogue militias into the fold. Both men also face harsh economic realities, compounded by months of conflict and unrest. These are the dual challenges wrought by the Arab Spring: Institutionalizing nascent democracy while simultaneously kick-starting much-needed economic growth.

In a perfect world, democracy and economic growth would be mutually reinforcing. But in many corners of the globe — from Latin America, to Africa, to the former Soviet bloc — the reality has proven to be more complex. Whether the Arab world can have both democracy and prosperity is a question that will play out for months and years. But for now, all we can do is measure the attitudes and aspirations of Arab citizens themselves.

Solid majorities in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Tunisia say that democracy is the best form of government, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. At the same time, at least seven-in-ten respondents from these countries say that their national economy is performing poorly.

Read the full commentary at foreignpolicy.com