Summary of ‘Why Are There No Arab Democracies?

Topics: Jordan, Middle East, Sudan Pages: 3 (867 words) Published: November 2, 2011
Larry Diamond's presentation explores the question of why there are no Arab democracies in the Middle East and North Africa. He shows us the relatively stagnant levels of democratic freedoms that have been the norm in the region for the past several decades. Diamond gives us a multitude of potential explanations for the absence of a sustainable democracy. His first explanation implicates that there must be something within the Islam or Arab culture or religion, that prevents the formation of a democratic society. Because as Alfred Stepan and Graeme Robertson stated, the “democracy gap” among states in the world is an Arab gap much more than a “Muslim” gap as there are eight, non-Arab Muslim-majority states that have democratic governments, verses zero Arab ones. He uses data from the Freedom House Scales that show us that Arab states score almost a whole point lower than the other Muslim-majority states. Diamond says that despite British historian, Elie Kedourie’s, work which states that there were no traditions in the Islamic culture that they could base a constitutional government off of, outside the Arab world a number of countries with Muslim political traditions have had experiences with democracy. And those ideas of modern democracy have taken hold in a number of countries for which there really were no precedents, so it cannot be their culture or religion. Diamond’s next explanation involved the economic development of the region. There is a commonly accepted statement that the more well-to-do a country is the better chance it has for becoming democracy. But many Arab countries are now quite “well-to-do.” If you compare per capita income levels many Arab nations compare with western countries. Only a few remain towards the lower end, but still these countries are no poorer in per capita terms than India or Indonesia, where there is democracy despite the lack prosperity. He goes on to state that since many of these countries depend heavily on oil and gas...
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