Jordanians protest over food prices in 2011.
Source: The Guardian.
This blog is the second in a three-part series addressing recent findings of the Arab Barometer, whose objectives include the production of scientifically reliable data on the political attitudes of ordinary citizens. Read the first part, about Iraq, here.
By James Stricker
In Jordan, economic factors have played an important role in political stability since 2011. Jordanians as a whole consider economic rights to be a core component of democracy. This is demonstrated by the fact that most public protests began as a response to economic grievances. The trend corresponds strongly with the Arab Barometer’s recent MENA opinion poll results: throughout the region, Arabs are at least as concerned with securing their economic rights as they are with securing political rights.
As the Arab Spring gained momentum in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, a number of protests sprang up throughout Jordan in 2011. However, the most prevalent slogans were not against the regime itself, nor were they about securing more political rights. Instead, Jordanians who took to the streets voiced their frustrations with price inflation and corruption.
This blog is the first in a three-part series addressing recent findings of the Arab Barometer, whose objectives include the production of scientifically reliable data on the political attitudes of ordinary citizens.
For Iraq, bombing ISIS out of existence is impossible and counterintuitive. Job creation that drives balanced economic growth, on the other hand, is not only feasible but badly needed. The policy narratives may be slowly shifting away from a security focus towards a holistic reform that prioritizes job creation. Academics, development experts, and even the U.S. President are beginning to realize that providing economic outlets for Iraqis, particularly potential militants, to put food on the table and send their children to school might be the long-term silver bullet.
This should not be a difficult message to sell: economic opportunity – not martyrdom, not anti-Western ideology, not even the Syrian Civil War – is far and away the most important issue for all Arabs whether they are for, against, or undecided about ISIS. Below is an analysis of three recent opinion polls showing that, whereas much remains to divide the Iraqi people, job creation continues to unite them and should be the thrust of coalition-building and reconstruction efforts emanating from Baghdad and Washington.
On October 28, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that the performance of each of his ministries will be evaluated in what the government describes as the country’s first-ever such accountability exercise. Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party (PML-N) has said that four benchmarks will be used assess each minister: implementation of the PML-N campaign platform from the 2013 election; internal department and ministry reforms; public service delivery and public welfare; and whether the ministry has a strategic plan, or a “future agenda.”
This development is particularly notable because for the past year, CIPE and one of its key partners in Pakistan – the Policy Research Institute on Market Economy (PRIME), an Islamabad-based think tank – have spearheaded a program to track the government’s implementation of its economic policy platform. PRIME issues a quarterly performance scorecard, tracking key macro- and microeconomic indicators, as well as legislative and policy initiatives, to measure whether the government is following through on its 2013 pledge to overhaul the economy.
The idea of such monitoring follows, in turn, on CIPE’s earlier work to engage the business community in policy advocacy and encourage the parties to campaign on specific economic platforms – at the time a first for Pakistan. This program by PRIME and CIPE continues that innovation, and also set the tone for the government’s own accountability push.
This weekend the world celebrated 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall — the physical symbol of a divided continent. The Berlin Wall created artificial boundaries between societies, scarring Europe’s economic and political development for generations. The Iron Curtain defined where freedom ended and repression began.
Pro-democracy reformers and activists are among the most driven and courageous people in the world. Speaking out against abuses committed by authoritarian governments often brings the risk of punishment, and meaningfully engaging on policy issues even with democratic governments takes dedication, mobilization, and discipline.
Civil society is a key conduit between citizens and their governments through which such engagement should happen. Yet, in a troubling global trend, we are witnessing the shrinking of civic space, with a number of countries from Ethiopia to Russia having passed restrictive anti-NGO legislation.
Especially in such difficult environments, human rights defenders and democracy advocates more than anything need to know that they are not alone, that the ideals they fight for are universal, and that they are a part of an international community. That is exactly what the Warsaw Dialogue for Democracy helps to accomplish.
Now in its third edition, the Dialogue, which took place October 23-25 at the Natolin Campus of the College of Europe in Warsaw, is an international gathering devoted to democracy and civil society, bringing together representatives of civil society, human rights defenders and activists from Africa and the Middle East, Asia, the Americas and Eastern Europe. The Dialogue is a forum for the exchange of good practices and expertise in the evolution of democratic systems as well as a place to share success stories and challenges of democratic transitions.
Once among the poorest countries in the world, South Korea has grown into one of the richest since transitioning to democracy in the late 1980s after a series of popular uprisings.
In his June 1982 Westminster Address , which laid the groundwork for the creation of CIPE and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), President Ronald Reagan established an emerging role for the U.S. as a leader in supporting democracy around the world:
“It is time that we committed ourselves as a nation- in both the public and private sectors- to assisting democratic development…The objective I propose is quite simple to state: to foster the infrastructure of democracy-the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities- which allows a people to choose their own way, to develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means.”
Today that role is being questioned. At an October 20, 2014 conference hosted by the Kennan and Foreign Policy Research Institutes, academics and policymakers from around the world convened to dissect the question “Does Democracy Matter?”
Panelists and participants acknowledged a notable – and unprecedented – cynicism about democracy support: its track record, current viability, and future prospects. Worse yet, this cynicism among scholars, politicians, and practitioners in the U.S. and Europe is coupled with disillusion in nascent or would-be democracies from Central Europe to the Middle East to Latin America. Keynote speaker Larry Diamond reminded the audience that, in direct contrast to the 1990s, the last ten years have seen more countries increasing in authoritarianism than countries making democratic gains.