Understanding democratic transition using self-organizing maps: a special focus on Arab spring countries

Understanding democratic transition using self-organizing maps: a special focus on Arab spring countries

In December 2010, a popular protest movement erupted in Tunisia and spread to Egypt, Libya, and across the Middle East. However, although “Arab Spring” countries began in roughly similar places, the current paper clarifies that they move along three different paths after their regime change.

The document points that the first one is the progressive and continuous democratic transition path in which Tunisia is engaged. Egypt is in the second path, where it has swung back and forth between autocracy and more democratic rule. The third path, nevertheless, results in the state collapse as in Libya and Yemen.

The authors use a large set of indicators and the self-organising map (SOM) approach as an analytical tool in order to identify the conditions favourable for democratic transition and to analyse the specific experience of Arab countries concerned by regime change. The results show that there are economic, social, demographic, societal, political and institutional configurations conductive to the switch from autocracy toward democracy.

Consequently, the paper suggests that MENA countries can divided into two stable groups, where in each group there are close configurations. Accordingly, the document predicts success for Tunisia with a low probability, but a high probability of failure for Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen.

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