Protest Publics: New Actors of Social Change and Civic Participation
The Arab Spring affected a large number of countries North Africa, but the intensity and nature of protests were different from one country to another. In some cases, protests led not only to the overthrow of authoritarian leaders, but to civil war and harsh clashes among ethnic and religious groups. Nonetheless, the nature of the regime type that might be said to depict these groups is the “hybrid regime” which combines authoritarianism and some aspects of electoral democracy. Hence, mass protests played the same role among the three hybrid regime countries: Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.
The political situation in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt after the Arab Spring revolutions witnessed multi-faceted changes. Based on the theory of political change, we can track different situational, institutional and policy changes that occurred in the three countries after the protests: “New Political Elite” in Tunisia: from Islamists to a regime of technocrats and democrats; Constitutional reforms in Morocco: The steady "Palace" knows well how to play the game with Islamists; The Islamist failure and rise of the army into power in Egypt.
In the selected countries mass protests served as specific triggers for change that led to different kinds of democratic development. The features of every state and a combination of involved actors and key factors determined the nature of such changes, but taking into account general patterns, we could say that the main trend of political and democratic change was certainly close in each case. Therefore, the role of protest publics in hybrid regimes can be described as “triggers” of democracy whereby efforts to democratize are slowly getting off the ground under authoritarian conditions.
This chapter aims to examine how mass protests affected processes of socio-political changes in Russia and China in the case of Hong Kong and Turkey. All three countries (with certain exceptions in the case of Hong Kong) are characterized as authoritarian states where blast of mass protests happened during the period 2011-2017. In each case, the situation with authoritarian rule has different aspects: Russia slowly moves from a democratic hybrid regime to authoritarianism since 2003 under control of president Vladimir Putin; In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is trying to unite the nation around his figure and changing political regime to achieve undisputed power; Hong Kong was under British rule till 1999 and returned into China on a particular agreement that the political regime established during the “colonial” period, which will not be reduced to all-China conditions. Nevertheless, different pathways led to similar results – shrinking space for independent political institutions and violations of fundamental rights and freedoms are not tolerated by the part of society in all three countries. Without working mechanisms to launch policy change, citizens choose protests as a way to show authorities their disagreement and anger over the authoritarian manner of policy-making.
This chapter analyses the nature of protests in Iceland, the United Kingdom and the United States in America from 2008 to 2016. We focus on the nature of these protests, forms of collective actions, main drivers of the protests and the resulting political changes. It allows us to determine that protests played the role of the challengers of the status quo — protested against the current political state in their countries and tried to develop alternatives by revoking practices of direct democ- racy, creating public spaces for discussions and promote their ideas among the broad public.