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New Patterns of Mobilization for and against Democracy

Francesco Cavatorta

Francesco Cavatorta is Full Professor in the Department of Political Science at Université Laval in Quebec, Canada. He previously held positions at the University College Dublin and at City University Dublin. Recently, he was a Visiting Fellow at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford. He has been the Principal Investigator in a recent Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded project on the values and attitudes of members of Islamist parties in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. His current research projects focus on party politics and government coalitions in the Middle East and North Africa and opposition politics across different political regimes. The author of numerous publications, he recently published the co-edited volume (with Alex Baturo and Luca Anceschi) Personalism and Personalist Regimes with Oxford University Press.

Most recent relevant publications

(with Hendrik Kraetzschmar) ‘Multiparty cabinets and coalition governance in the Arab Middle East and North Africa.’ Middle East and Governance, Vol. 15, No. 3, 2023, pp. 320-344.

(with Janine Clark) ‘Political and social mobilization in the Arab world after the 2011 uprisings.’ Globalizations, 2022.

(with Paola Rivetti) ‘Revolution and counter-revolution in the Middle East and North Africa. A Global perspective on regional politics and knowledge production’, Partecipazione e Conflitto, Vol. 14, No. 2, 2021, pp. 511-529.

(with Andrea Teti and Pamela Abbott) ‘Do Arabs really want democracy? Evidence from four countries’, Democratization, Vol. 26, no. 4, 2019, pp. 645-665.

(with Ozgun Topak, and Merouan Mekouar, eds.). New Authoritarian Practices in the Middle East and North Africa. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022.

As the co-convenor of your hub, how do you perceive the general topic in relation to your hub?

I have been working on political and social mobilization in the Middle East and North Africa for two decades and I am very excited about the potential for cross-regional comparisons that will inevitably emerge. Pro-democracy mobilization has been a feature of Middle East politics for quite some time and there are several trends that can be identified and compared with what has been occurring elsewhere, from the struggle to democratise state institutions to the efforts of civil society in extending individual freedoms. Anti-democracy, or to be more precise anti-liberalism, mobilization has also featured prominently in the MENA, making the region a hub of strong authoritarian and democratic dynamics. Several of the debates characterising such dynamics can be found elsewhere, as the nature of developmental state is crucial across world regions. One aspect that is central to mobilization – whether pro or anti democracy – is socio-economic inequality and this is a line of research that connects not only the general topic to the hub, but also to all the other hubs.

As the co-convenor of your hub, how do you relate to other hubs?

Mobilization for and against democracy is only one aspect of the way in which citizens – whether in democracies or authoritarian regimes – relate to the state and therefore understanding the type of state being engaged and what kind of discourses the state is the object of is crucial to have a much fuller picture of what the nature of the state should be and how we might get there. In a sense we are connected to the question of what should/can the state deliver to its citizens and how different sectors of society mobilise to answer that question.