Changed regimes, changed priorities? Economic and social policies after the 2011 elections in Tunisia and Egypt

Changed regimes, changed priorities? Economic and social policies after the 2011 elections in Tunisia and Egypt

Even though systematic, detailed, and methodologically sound explanations of the events commonly referred to as the Arab spring will take time to be completed, it is fair to assume that large-scale popular protests and the subsequent transformation of political regimes were  prompted by a combination of socio-economic and political factors.

This paper seeks to examine the economic and social policies that key political actors in Tunisia and Egypt advocated and partly implemented after the departure of the former authoritarian rulers, Zin al-Abdin Bin Ali and Husni Mubarak. The paper focuses on actors strong enough to directly influence policy choices: parties that were part of however informal parliamentary majorities, governments, and, in the case of Egypt, the president of the republic, who in line with constitutional arrangements, wielded important powers.

The paper first summarises the economic and social policies publicly advocated by the parties and individuals who dominated elected assemblies and executives after the fall of former autocrats. It then discusses the policies that the new Islamist rulers implemented from their election in late 2011 until the summer of 2013 (subsequent publications will cover longer periods of time). In a third step, both policy statements and decisions are examined in the light of assumptions about the origins of the Arab Spring and compared with policies under the old regimes and their effects.

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