Is the recent “Arab spring” a new wave of democratization?

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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"Arab Spring" is a blanket term to refer to all of the recent uprisings and revolutions from North Africa to the Middle East, and there is no one way to characterize what is happening in each individual society and government with a single term or even trend, so "democratization" is, at best, only partially accurate.

In some cases, that is exactly what is taking place, as in Tunisia (where this all started) which has peacefully made the transition from a dictatorship to something like a more democratic republic.  Libya, on the other hand, had months of violent civil war, and while Qaddafi is dead, it is very unclear whether or not what eventually takes his place will be any more democratic.  In Egypt, they have had seemingly successful parliamentary elections for the first time in decades, although the parties which won the most seats are not necessarily what we would refer to in the West as champions of democratic ideals.

In the very narrowest, strictest sense, that in which dictatorships have been removed and more or less democratic elections have taken place or are about to, we can say that democratization is in progress.  But it is still way to early, and the revolutions still way too fragile, to assume real democracies will emerge, especially in a region that has little to no experience with it.


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