One of the routine assumptions of students of democratization has been that there is a close, causal relationship between liberalization and democratization. The former is said to drive those who concede it toward convoking credible elections and, eventually, tolerating ruler accountability to citizens. The link between those processes of regime transformation is alleged to be the mobilization of civil society. It has been argued that the weakness or absence of this linkage is one (among many) of the conditions which make the polities of the Middle East and North Africa resistant to democratization. We propose to open a public discussion on this topic.
Philippe Schmitter is Professor Emeritus at the European University Institute (EUI), and was on the faculty of the EUI from 1996 to 2004, after ten years at Stanford University. He is also a recurrent visiting professor at the Central European University in Budapest, at the Istituto delle Scienze Humanistiche in Florence and the University of Siena.
He has been vice-president of the American Political Science Association and the recipient of numerous professional awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim in 1978, the award for lifetime achievement in European politics by the ECPR in 2008, and the award for lifetime achievement in the study of European integration by EUSA in 2009.
Sean Yom is a Hewlett Postdoctoral Fellow at CDDRL at Stanford University. He finished his Ph.D. at the Department of Government at Harvard University in June 2009, with a dissertation entitled "Iron Fists in Silk Gloves: Building Political Regimes in the Middle East". His primary research explores the origins and durability of authoritarian regimes in this region, focusing on the historical interplay between early social conflicts and Western geopolitical interventions.