- Augustus Richard Norton
This chapter examines the issue of political reform in the Middle East. More specifically, it considers the enormous challenges that face proponents of political reform in the region. To this end, the chapter focuses on the legacies of state formation that shape the contemporary political systems, as well as the changing economic and social parameters of societies in today’s Middle East. After explaining the democracy deficit in the Middle East, the chapter shows that the Arab states have been slow to respond to the global processes of democratization. It also explores the political economy of Arab states, the persistence of conflict, regime type, and the ambiguity over the relationship between democracy and Islam. Finally, it analyses the Arab Spring as evidence of the vibrancy and growth of civil society in many states across the region.