Senior Fellow Amaney Jamal Cited: “Why Some Arabs Don’t Want Democracy”

In a piece for the Washington Post‘s Monkey Cage blog, Portland State University professor Lindsay Benstead cites the work of POMED Nonresident Senior Fellow Amaney Jamal on the Arab Barometer project and public opinions in the Arab world.

Scholars of public opinion, including Arab Barometer researchers Amaney Jamal, Michael Robbins and Mark Tessler, offer ample evidence of support for democracy in the Arab world. According to polls from 2006 to 2008, at least 80 percent of residents in Yemen, the Palestinian territories, Algeria and Jordan agreed or strongly agreed that, “Democracy may have its problems, but it is the best form of government.” This figure exceeded 90 percent in Morocco and Lebanon.

Yet, in a recent article published in “Democratization,” I revisited these Arab Barometer data and found that support for democracy is not as widespread as received wisdom suggests. I found that 27 percent of citizens of six countries surveyed by the Arab Barometer believed that democracy is best but unsuitable for their country. The reasons citizens saw democracy as unsuitable stem not from religion or economic modernization – the focus of many studies of Arab public opinion – but from concerns about economic problems and political instability that could accompany free elections.

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