About the Seminar: How are politicians selected in the countries of Middle East and North Africa where electoral politics is to a large extent dominated by secular-Islamist competition? By bringing together a novel candidate survey, a contemporaneous household survey, interviews and a conjoint experiment with party officials, this paper describes the political selection processes around the first democratic local elections in Tunisia. It shows that there is a divergence between the main secular party and the main Islamist party: The secular party suffers from a relatively negative political selection, because its candidates are less competent even though the secular voter base has a larger share of citizens with higher educational attainment. Party-related factors, i.e. what the party elites look for when selecting their candidates, are likely to explain a large share of this divergence: Secular party officials prioritize connectedness and loyalty over competence.
About the Speaker: Aytug Sasmaz is a political scientist working on political parties, social policy and democratic decline, primarily in the Middle East and North Africa region. He recently received his PhD from Harvard.