Protest publics as the “Triggers” of democratic development in Hybrid Regimes: Cases of Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt
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.