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Cover Democratization

23. The Middle East and North Africa  

Francesco Cavatorta

This chapter examines why democratic openings failed to consolidate in the Middle East and North Africa despite the profound influence of the global wave of democratization on both regions. Authoritarianism persists in the region comprising the Middle East and North Africa. Nevertheless, countries in the region experienced changes since the consolidation of authoritarian rule soon after decolonization. The chapter considers a number of explanations for the durability of authoritarian rule in the Middle East and North Africa in the face of both domestic and international pressures for democratic governance. In particular, it discusses the role of Islamist political actors and Israel. It also looks at the region’s political culture and society, business and economy, and agents of democratization and democratic failure. Finally, it describes institutional challenges for the region’s chances to become more democratic.