Voting for Change: The Pitfalls and Possibilities of First Elections in Arab Transitions
BDC-Stanford Project on Arab Transitions, Vol. 2
The first elections after the fall of authoritarian regimes present an important opportunity for both local and international actors to strengthen transitional processes. Drawing on lessons from Egypt and Tunisia’s “founding elections”, this paper addresses how best to support democratic practices in elections to come in the Arab world.
The paper examines three unique sets of challenges: encouraging the creation of new political parties and the appropriate institutional design; managing and handling the electoral process itself; and achieving outcomes that will strengthen democracy in the long term. Lust argues that processes in post-authoritarian Arab states must establish rules and outcomes that give diverse actors – including old regime allies – a place in the political arena, and are viewed as domestically driven and “fair enough,” rather than focusing on impeccable processes or ideal outcomes.