"Which democracy after the ‘Arab Spring’?", Roberto Toscano

Notes internacionals CIDOB, núm. 57

- The experience of the “Arab Spring”, with its achievements and its failures, raises several fundamental questions on democracy that are valid beyond the region.

- The weakness of secularism in the Muslim world is mainly due to the fact that it is perceived not as promoting the separation of religion and state, but as being hostile to religion, and opposed to the presence in the public sphere of religion, which it would like to see limited to the merely private domain.

- Whereas in the West democracy has historically come only on the basis of a long process of construction of the rule of law, we seem now to expect that countries that have entered the XXI century without any real experience of the rule of law will move directly to democracy.

- Liberals in the Middle East have a tendency to focus on political issues (human rights, individual freedom) and disregard social issues. Radical Islam is strong not because of the strength of religious fundamentalism, but rather thanks to its credible social activism (and reputation for not being corrupt).

- Majority rule is not necessarily genuine democracy, but instead is fully compatible with “imitation democracy” – in which the appearance of the democratic process is preserved (elections) but its pluralist substance is denied by populist demagoguery and, when necessary, repression.


Roberto Toscano, Senior Research Fellow Associate, CIDOB

Fecha de publicación: 06/2012

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