Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ArabTrans Report Summary

Project ID: 320214
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: United Kingdom

Final Report Summary - ARABTRANS (Political and Social Transformations in the Arab World)

Executive Summary:
1. Executive Summary
The December 2010 Tunisian uprising triggered historic revolutions throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) commonly known as the ‘Arab Spring’ or ‘Arab Uprisings’. Focusing on
Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, the project on Political and Social Transformation in the Arab World (ArabTrans) explored the root causes of the revolutions,whether and how these countries changed economically, socially and politically following the Uprisings and the outlook for the region. It reviewed the theoretical frameworks for understanding political transitions and examined the economic, social and political drivers of the Uprisings in the two decades prior to 2010 and how governments responded. It also examined the political, social and economic attitudes and values of a nationally representative sample of ordinary citizens in each country, how these had changed leading up to the Uprisings, how they evolved by 2014, and what people thought would happen in the future.

The main project outputs are a pooled survey data set for 2014, a longitudinal database spanning 2000-2015, a series of reports, and several policy briefs setting out the main findings. Further policy-oriented and academic publications are currently in preparation.

In scholarly terms, ArabTrans makes both substantive and methodological advances in knowledge about the region. At a substantive level, project findings advance our understanding of the political, social and economic drivers, outcomes and future of the Uprisings. Specifically, data analysis produced nbew knowledge on a range of topics, including the perception of democracy in the MENA, the relation between religion and politics, gender, corruption, political mobilisation and the role of the EU. In particular, the survey data reveal the popular concern about economic security – including corruption, jobs, and services – and an equally worrying distrust in the state institutions and leadership which ought to be delivering such security. Against this backdrop, survey analysis reveals that respondents have a much more holistic and substantive conception of democracy than international policy makers: the latter focus on certain core procedural and formal aspects – e.g. elections, civil and political rights – but public opinion in the MENA also understands democracy to entail substantive commitments to social justice and economic rights. In addition, while most people do not demand Western-style liberal democracy, they also reject religious leaders’ involvement in politics: social justice and economic rights are their primary focus. Methodologically, the project contributes the construction of a longitudinal data base, combining macrodata and international indexes with individual-level survey data, which will facilitate the analysis of socio-political transformations both within the region and beyond it. In addition, the project used new techniques for data verification which significantly improved the quality of the survey data – and therefore the accuracy of the findings, and they will contribute to improving the quality public opinion surveys generally.

The project also provides policy recommendations of use to the governments of the seven countries surveyed, to NGOs, to the EU, and to other local and international stakeholders. Project findings have the potential to make an impact on policy in and towards the region, as well as to contribute to academic knowledge and practice.

The findings have been disseminated in the MENA, to the EU and to Western governments, with ongoing dissemination focusing on policymakers and academics. Policy Briefs and Working Papers have been published and presentations given at academic conferences. These plus the project reports are available on the project website, and findings have been disseminated using social media.

Project Context and Objectives:
2. The Project Context
The Arab Uprisings represented a series of events unprecedented in the history of the Middle East: mass, popular, and largely non-violent uprisings rejecting the existing political and socio-economic order started in December 2010 in Tunisia and reverberated throughout the region. These protests threatened – and in several cases resulted in the overthrow of – apparently stable autocratic regimes. At the same time, Western governments were caught in a bind, on the one hand being committed to support democracy and human rights as ‘fundamental values’, while on the other hand having previously wedded themselves to autocratic regimes on ‘pragmatic’ grounds and espoused those regimes’ own narratives of a slow transition.

Despite such an unfavourable domestic, regional and global environment, protesters won significant victories: Tunisian President Ben Ali resigned on January 14th, Egyptian President Mubarak stepped down on February 11th, protests flared in Yemen on February 3rd, in Bahrain on February 14th and in Syria on the 15th, with smaller protests in Iran, Iraq (albeit were less related to the Arab Uprisings themselves and more to ongoing strife since 2003), Morocco, and Jordan. For all the assumed resilience of these authoritarian regimes, conventional instruments of repression and co-option appeared ineffective, betraying both the regimes’ lack of support domestically, and the precariousness of the altar of stability upon which Western allies had sacrificed the pursuit of democracy.

By mid-2011, Tunisia and Egypt appeared to be struggling for transitions away from authoritarianism, Libya and Syria had descended into domestic conflict, Bahrain’s protests had been bloodily repressed (with the Saudis sending forces across the King Fahd Bridge), the Moroccan and Jordanian monarchies had promised reforms, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies were moving to shore up authoritarian regimes, including in Yemen, and Algeria alone appeared not to have experienced significant protests. By late October 2011 Syria and Yemen were mired in conflict, the Libyan conflict had been brought to an end with Gaddafi’s assassination and foreign intervention, and only renewed protests preventing Egypt – however temporarily – from descending into counter-revolution. These setbacks produced much handwringing – and thinly-veiled delight – by observers who had in the past argued against the region’s potential for democratisation, for either cultural or economic reasons. These commentators began to describe events either as a conflict-ridden ‘Arab Winter’ or as an ‘Islamist Winter,’ in which Islamist parties would translate popular uprisings into electoral advantage, as in Tunisia and Egypt, only to smother embryonic democracy in its cradle.

However, their cynicism was at least as simplistic and misplaced as the over-eager confidence in the inevitability of profound change which others expressed in the early days of the Uprisings. The Arab Uprisings represented a genuine political challenge, as well as a challenge both to analysis and to policy. At an analytical level the Uprisings represent a major event which must be explained. However, existing models of transformations/transitions – or indeed of the absence thereof (transitions to democracy, resilient authoritarianism and hybrid regimes being the three main models) – face major challenges in doing so. For example, the fact of the Uprisings needs to be explained by authoritarian resilience models, particularly those relying on culturalist claims such as Huntington’s notion of a ‘clash of civilisations’ (e.g. that Arab culture or Islam as a religion make transitions away from authoritarianism difficult if not impossible). Certainly, during the high points of the Uprisings regional autocracies appeared far more fragile than the literature on authoritarianism had supposed. On the other hand, the Uprisings represent a challenge for models of transitions to democracy, since only Tunisia can be said to have experienced a transition to even a semblance of it; mostly, protests did not lead to democracy, at least up to the present. In addition, both sets of models need to be able to explain the timing and outcome of the Uprisings, and indeed the diverse range of those outcomes. On a more specific level, the Uprisings were notable for the important role of trade unions before and during the protests (particularly the strong and relatively independent unions in Tunisia), and of Islamist parties in determining post-Uprisings trajectories (e.g. Tunisia’s Nahda party, Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party), as well as independent civil society, an important component of which viewed Western ‘democracy promotion’ with deep scepticism.

3 Main Objectives
From the point of view of policy-making towards the region, the Uprisings represent a challenge to major regional and international actors’ conceptions of security, economic development and democratization. Understanding democracy and its promotion as focusing on elections and certain civil-political rights, understanding security as the absence of conflict, and accepting that development strategies came with a considerable amount of socio-economic dislocation had contributed to Western policy-makers prioritising a narrowly-conceived ‘stability’ over political and economic inclusion and over democratization in particular. The epitome of this misconceived policy ‘iron triangle’ was the offer made to Ben Ali by the then-French Interior Minister Michelle Alliot-Marie to help control Tunisian protests. This offer suggests how entrenched – and how mistaken – was the prioritisation of stability as a mere absence of change. In turn this suggests a broader problem, namely, that a better understanding of socio-political transformations generally can inform policy-makers’ re-evaluation of goals and instruments of policy.

The goal of the project was to:
describe, explain, and understand the root causes, and evolution of the Arab Uprisings (also known as ‘Arab Spring’ or ‘Arab Revolutions’) and the outlook for them.
To do the project: reviewed the literature on the political, social and economic development of seven Arab countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq) from the 1960s; developed a data base of political, social and economic macro indicators, international indexes and individual country level data; and carried out public opinion surveys in the seven countries. It analysed socio-political transformations in the seven countries with a focus on examining homogeneities and heterogeneities in regional and historical development. The project also examined and compared the beliefs, values and behaviour of ordinary people in the seven countries with respect to political and social transformations through use of comparative sample survey data. The findings from the project were published in a series of reports:
1. country reports and a comparative report discussing the attitudinal and behavioural self-report information collected through the comparative survey
2. country reports and a comparative report combining an analysis of subjective survey data from public opinion surveys carried out from the beginning of the 21st Century with longitudinal macro-data and international indexes and with qualitative data to provide a significantly enhanced description and analysis of process of political and social transformation;
3. a comparative report discussing mobilisation with a focus on the role of social media in the uprisings;
4. a report critically reviewing the development and implementation of the European Neighbourhood policy in the MENA region and the impact on the region including the attitudes of citizens to the EU and its policies.

The project findings outline, examine, and inform policy options about the political and social change in these countries. They provide a unique and valuable source of comparative data, building on previous knowledge, which will be of use to the EU, the policy-making community, the scientific community and a range of nongovernmental stakeholders. The project design and its outputs are also tailored to be easily integrated into future comparative analyses both within the region and beyond it – for example, with the European and Eastern Neighbourhood contexts, in which socio-economic dislocation and political anomie have also produced important electoral and non-electoral protest phenomena. The project will also contribute to creating a common research area across the European Union’s Southern neighbourhood in the Southern and South-Eastern part of the Mediterranean area, since many of these countries have been left out of international research programmes or incompletely included until now.

Project Results:
4 Foreground and Results
4.1 The Exploitable Foreground
The ArabTrans project’s exploitable foreground consists of two data sets: the ArabTrans Survey Data File which will be made publicly available in April 2017, and, the ArabTrans Longitudinal Database which became publicly on conclusion of the project at the end of September 2016.

The first data set is the ArabTrans Survey Data File. This is the cleaned SPSS file of the results of our survey. Six countries are included in the dataset, represented by respondents selected by stratified random sampling. Each country’s sample is demographically representative of adults aged 18 or over at national level, which means that the findings from the survey can be generalised to the adult population of each country. Sample size varies by country, however: Morocco and Jordan achieved samples of around 2000, Iraq 1750, Libya and Egypt around 1600, and Tunisia 1,200.

The survey included questions on political, social and economic attitudes that had been used in other values surveys carried out in the region (World Values Survey and Arab Barometer) to permit an analysis of changes in attitudes and values before and after the 2011 Uprisings. In addition, three new sets of questions were specifically developed for the ArabTrans survey: (1) questions on EU-MENA relations; (2) questions on security; and (3) questions on the causes, support for and participation in the Arab Uprisings and willingness to be involved in political action at the time when the survey was carried out. The questionnaire contained eleven sections:
• general topics, including trust and questions on migration;
• economic situation, including the past, the present and the future;
• security, locally and at national level, including past, present and future;
• views on the political system, evaluation of government, trust in government and attitudes to foreign relations, including relationships with the EU;
• religion, its involvement in politics and the role of shari’a in the law;
• causes of Arab Uprisings, participation in them and willingness to be involved in political action now;
• changes over the three years since the Uprising, and the EU programmes undertaken after it; political interest and involvement, gender issues;
• the role of media, including new social media, and political mobilisation;
• living conditions and way of life; and
• demographic characteristics.

The surveys were carried out by country partners using a questionnaire in local versions of Arabic that had been developed by the project team in English, translated into Arabic and piloted and revised prior to the main fieldwork. The project was given ethical approval by the University of Aberdeen, all participants were asked to give informed consent, and the teams carrying out data collection and entry were trained and supervised. The pooled data set was cleaned and quality assured.

The second resource for analysis is the ArabTrans Longitudinal Database (which puts the survey data in context and permits the identification of trends over time. The Database covers seven Arab countries: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia. It was specifically developed for the project to permit analysis of the political, economic and social origins of the 2011 Uprisings and of the transformations since then. It combines macro-level political, social and economic indicators with relevant international indexes and data on individual issues, measuring attitudes and values at country level. A wide range of indicators measure finance and economics, social and political rights, social situation (education, health, work, housing, infrastructure) and a wide range of more specialised topics including development assistance, gender, religion, trust and corruption. The indicators are taken from international databases, including the World Development Indicators and the Worldwide Governance Indicators, UNDP’s Human Development Indicators, and UN, IMF, and OECD data. We also include a wide range of indicators and indexes on corruption and financial crime plus material from the major repositories on governance, government effectiveness, the rule of law, political freedoms and structural discrimination, particularly by gender. These include the World Bank ‘Ease of Doing Business’, Freedom House, the Global Gender Gap Index, the Bertelsmann Transformations Index and the Fragile States Index, among others. This permits an analysis of political, social and economic transforms leading up to and driving the 2011 Uprisings and the post-2011 developments. Key questions and variables from the various Arab surveys (World Values Survey, Arab Barometer, Afro Barometer, Gallup World Poll) are also included, as well as the ArabTrans survey. These make it possible to measure changes in attitudes and values in the period before 2011 and see what they contributed to the birth of the Uprisings as well as how they have changed since then. The current version offers data from 1960 (or the earliest available date) to 2014 and contains 785 variables drawn from 22 distinct data sources.

4.2. Major Findings I: Key Themes and Issues
4.2.1. Origins of the Uprisings
The Arab Uprisings in December 2010 and January 2011 took the countries themselves and rest of the world by surprise. Most developing MENA countries had been regarded as relatively stable, with autocratic rulers that had been in power for many years. To understand why the Uprisings happened it is necessary to combine a long-term political economy trend analysis with an analysis of short-term dynamics. Specifically, the Uprisings can be located within a crisis of neo-liberalism, with high unemployment (especially youth unemployment), the growth in insecure employment, a perception of growing inequalities (in both income and wealth, as well as in social mobility) and a decline in satisfaction with life. The economic reforms mandated by the WB and IMF in the 1980s in return for debt relief benefitted a political and economic elite but signally failed to ‘trickle down’ to benefit the middle classes and the poor. Ordinary people had become dissatisfied with their standard of living, with the benefits of economic development going to the elite and a growing gap between people’s expectations and the reality of their lives. Subjective life satisfaction dropped significantly in the years prior to the 2011 Uprisings, and by the end of the 2000s people in the developing parts of MENA were amongst the least happy people in the world. The middle class had become frustrated by a progressive deterioration in their (real and perceived) living conditions, with a continued lack of meritocracy, and with the persistence of a system in which connections and patronage (wasta)
determined progress. At the same time, the working classes were concerned about their poor living conditions, poor public services, and increasing poverty. This put pressure on the (implicit) authoritarian social contracts by which citizens exchanged political freedom for public-sector employment, healthcare, education and food and fuel subsidies. What seems to have happened in 2010-2011 was a coming together of working and middle classes against a backdrop of growing disaffection and a common interest in fighting for regime change.

The Arab Uprisings are depicted particularly in Western commentary as a movement for democratic reform but they are more correctly seen as a movement against a very specific form of capitalism: neoliberalism and especially the ‘crony’ corrupt form that had developed in most of the countries. The protests were intensely political with protestors demanding social justice as well as political voice: they wanted responsive governments that would deliver decent, inclusive societies that recognise political, social and economic rights. Protesters were demanding socially justice and dignity and economic reforms as well as protesting against corruption and the abuse of power, especially by domestic security forces, with a relatively low priority given to electoral democracy.

When respondents to the ArabTrans survey were asked what motivated people to take to the streets in 2011, what the main challenges were for their country at the time of the survey in 2014 and what worried them about the current situation, there was considerable unanimity in what were named as the two most important elements. Despite the diverse histories and current situations of the different countries the issues most likely to be named were factors pertaining to economic conditions and rights (including employment and inflation) on the one hand, and government corruption on the other. Issues pertaining to political freedoms were sometimes on a par with, but usually lower than these, most likely because for several decades the populations in most of the countries surveyed had been told by their governments that they already had ‘democracy’. Other factors (e.g. the Palestinian question, security) trailed surprisingly far behind. These other elements were less often named, given that respondents were allowed only two responses; they were less important, or less urgent, or perhaps just less salient – less talked about and coming less easily to the tongue. Nonetheless, the survey clearly shows that political rights were and have remained important to people – equality of opportunity, quality of access to policy debate, a lessening of inequalities, a lessening of government autocracy, a reasonable expectation of the rule of law rather than arbitrary government. A high proportion of respondents also saw the Palestinian Question as being a destabilising force in the region and there were concerns about the security situation, most notably in Iraq and Libya.

The data show that many countries are split about the form of government citizens want and about the extent to which religious leaders and precepts should be integral to it. But differences between – as well as within – countries make it extremely difficult to generalise results to a regional level. It was, nevertheless, clear that Western style democratic government was not seen as the most appropriate form of government by a majority of citizens across the countries surveyed and that there was no single or even dominant view on what the relationship between religion and politics should be.

4.2.2. Support for and Participation in the Uprisings, and Political Action in their Aftermath
There has been considerable interest in establishing the amount of support for and participation in the Arab uprisings. The media have established not only a narrative of youth revolts but of ‘Twitter revolutions’ (or ‘Facebook revolutions’), a story of successful protests led by educated young people using social media to organise them. This narrative had been based on findings from qualitative studies, but our survey findings suggested the reality is more complicated than this. What emerges most strongly from our analysis is the differences between countries, both in the extent of support for and participation in the Uprisings and in the use of social media for political mobilisation. The ArabTrans survey uniquely asked respondents not only if they had participated in the Uprisings but also if they supported them even if they had not participated. Support for and participation in the Uprisings also seems to be somewhat lower than might have been assumed from reports in the popular media at the time, especially in Egypt, where only just over a quarter said they had supported the Uprisings and eight per cent participated. The highest reported support was in Libya, where 72 per cent said they had supported the Uprisings and 56 per cent participated; Jordan and Iraq had the lowest - only around 15 per cent supported and four per cent participated. In Tunisia, just over half supported and a quarter participated; in Morocco just under a third supported and 11 per cent participated.

Across the countries there was little difference in support for the Uprisings between youth and the middle-aged, although the elderly were less likely to have been supporters in Egypt, Tunisia and especially Morocco. Men were more likely than women to have supported the Uprisings, although the differences were not large, but women did not participate to anywhere near the same extent as men, especially in Egypt, Iraq and Tunisia. Support was highest, across all the countries, from those who had higher education qualifications, and in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia there was a linear relation between education and support with, the least educated being the least likely to have participated and those with higher education the most.

Looking at the users of social media during the Uprisings and their aftermath, social media users did tend to be younger, undoubtedly because there is a strong age bias in all countries in the use of the internet at all. Web and social media users also tended to be better educated than the average, somewhat more affluent and disproportionately men. Just over a quarter of citizens across the six countries were ‘on-line activists’ (used the social media to take part in or to organise political activities), and 28 per cent were ‘off-line activists’. The mix varies markedly by country, however, with political activism online (from commenting on and debating issues to actually organising protests) very uncommon in Egypt (6%) and Jordan (10%) but much higher in Libya (49%) and Iraq (36%).

4.2.3. What People’s Main Concerns Were in 2014 Compared with 2011
The analysis of changes in the concerns of ordinary citizens between 2011 and 2014 shows three main things: (1) that the main concerns remained unchanged; (2) that optimism in 2011 that things would improve had turned to at best resignation by 2014 - people did not see things as having improved and had little expectation of improvement over the coming years; (3). that a majority of citizens, whether or not they said they had supported the Uprisings, were concerned about the economic situation of their country and about corruption. A noticeable number were concerned about political freedoms but less so than about the economic situation and corruption.

Political changes following the Uprisings varied by country. By 2014 Tunisia was the only country that seemed to be moving towards democracy. In Egypt, the protests achieved the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in early 2011 and this was followed by constitutional reform and the election of a government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood, but by 2014 an authoritarian military regime had taken power. In Morocco and Jordan, the governments had made some limited political and economic concessions but there had been no change of regime. In Libya, the 2011 Uprisings had led to the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi but the country quickly descended into a civil war that was still raging in 2014. In Iraq, the Arab Uprisings contributed to ongoing conflicts and by 2014 the so called Islamic state was moving in on the country and by June occupied much of the Central Region. Survey data from the period of the Uprisings (Arab Barometer II) show that with the unprecedented wave of protests across the MENA region in 2010-11 came a renewed optimism that post-Uprisings governments would bring desired changes but also an awareness that socio-economic problems were as acute as political ones, if not more so. The data from the ArabTrans survey also suggests that what drove protesters was a demand for both social and economic rights (e.g. decent jobs, social protection, universal education and health services) as well as political change. This echoed the sense of betrayal that protesters had expressed in the slogans they used during the Uprisings, such as the immensely popular ‘Bread, Freedom, Social Justice’ (‘Aysh! Horreya! ‘Adala al-igtima’eyya!), popularised during Egypt’s ‘January Revolution’. Whatever their political preferences, protestors and their supporters sought both a substantive political inclusion – i.e. government responsive to people’s needs and voice rather than the democratic façade which ‘adaptable autocrats’ have sought before and since the Uprisings – and a decent life, and they expected to receive it from a ‘decent society’, namely one which:
• ensures the physical security of its borders and suppresses illegitimate violence;
• does not favour one fraction of the population over another, whether in terms of ethnicity, history, religion, gender or other ascribed personal or social characteristics;
• makes it possible for all to achieve a sufficient economic position to do more than just struggle for personal and household survival but to exercise capabilities and take choices;
• provides or regulates insurance against sudden disasters and ensures that the needed resources will be available during the difficult stages of the life-cycle – family formation, birth and child-rearing, schooling, old age;
• enforces the rule of law on advantaged and disadvantaged alike, including limitations on the arbitrary power of governments;
• regulates commerce and industry, ensuring that they behave in a law-abiding fashion and do not exercise their power to the detriment of other citizens;
• helps to promote, or at least does not work against, the development of shared norms and values such that citizens are able to feel that they can trust the stranger to behave fairly rather than promoting only his or her personal interests.

The ArabTrans survey clearly suggests that this socio-economic as well as political inclusion is what people want in their lives and would like to be able to expect from their governments. However, since 2010-2011 people’s expectations have been largely ignored or have gone unfulfilled on a range of issues, from social security to the availability of jobs. Trust in governments has declined drastically, the economy remains the single largest challenge (and cause of migration), corruption remains pervasive, unemployment is endemic, political reforms have been either cosmetic or reversed (or, in Tunisia’s case, remains fragile) and people’s faith that things might change has evaporated. This potentially toxic mix of factors has not been addressed by either regional governments or their international counterparts. Indeed, international financial institutions and Western governments quickly recast the Uprisings as a struggle merely for formal democracy and the overthrow of autocracy, ignoring people’s substantive demands for economic reforms and more socially inclusive and just societies. Western governments’ narrow interpretation made it possible for them to stress the need for an orderly transition to democracy while ignoring popular socio-economic demands to the point of continuing the very economic policies ordinary citizens blamed for the increasingly precarious lives they were leading.

Another myth that needs to be questioned is the claim that ‘political Islam’ inevitably has a destabilising effect on democratisation. However clearly refuted, the widely-held notion that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with democracy runs through a worrying proportion of scholarly and policy analysis, and especially of public debate. However, ArabTrans survey data show that there is no necessary link between even a radical commitment to Islam as a faith and support for any given political system: indeed, survey data from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Algeria indicate that strong faith does not significantly discourage support for democracy. However, the tensions and socio-political cleavages arising around the articulation of Islam and politics and the varying uses to which ‘Islam’ is put in the political arena betray the presence of forces that work against socio-political cohesion in these countries.

The importance of economic factors and corruption as the main drivers of the Uprisings is shown by the responses to the ArabTrans survey. Asked in 2014 what they thought had been the two main drivers of the Uprising in their country, economic grievances were the most frequently mentioned issue - ranging from 50 per cent in Libya to 77 per cent in Jordan – followed by corruption, which was nominated by just over 40 per cent in Egypt, rising to 64 per cent in Libya Figure 1). Political rights were less frequently mentioned, although a noticeable number did so in each country, ranging from 21 per cent in Egypt to 57 per cent in Libya.

A similar pattern emerges when respondents were asked what they saw as the major challenges facing their countries in 2014 (Figure 2). The economic situation was nominated as the most important challenge everywhere except in Libya, and corruption was also reported as an important challenge . Internal security emerged as a major challenge in 2014 in four of the countries – Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Tunisia. Authoritarianism, however, is only seen as one of the two main problems facing their country by a minority of respondents

Overall only a minority of people in 2014 thought that the Arab Uprisings had been positive for their country – a third in Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, a quarter in Egypt and less than 15 per cent in Iraq and Jordan. Overall our findings show that in general people though that the economic, political and security situation did not improve between 2009 and 2011 with many saying they thought it had deteriorated. In 2014 there remained a high level of concern about corruption and satisfaction with governments was relatively low. There was little difference between those that had supported the uprisings and those that had not, although those that had supported the Uprisings were marginally more positive about outcomes. The one exception was Morocco where, on average, people thought that things had marginally improved between 2009 and 2014.

Citizens across the countries, with the notable exception of Morocco, though, on average, that the general situation of both their families and their country had got worse between 2009 and 2014 generally and in terms of the economic, political and security situation (Figure 3). The situation of their families was generally rated more favourably than that of their countries in both years and the perceived decline in the general situation was notably greater in Jordan, Libya and Tunisia than the other countries.

4.2.4. The Economic Situation
The economic situation of households and the country was not rated highly in 2014. The average score on a five-point scale ranged from 2.6 in Tunisia to 3.1in Morocco for the household and from 2 (Tunisia) to 2.8 (Morocco) for the country. In Tunisia and Jordan, the decline in the average scores for 2014 compared to 2009 for both the household and the country’s economic situation is very noticeable (Figure 4). By contrast Iraqis and Moroccans report little difference, but with scores that are comparatively low in both years.

Satisfaction with the way the economy is developing varies significantly across the countries, although it is not high anywhere. Given the low scores the Tunisians give to the economic situation of their country and households in 2014 in absolute terms and in relation to 2009 it is perhaps not surprising that they are the least satisfied with only 11 per cent saying that they are satisfied with the way the economy is developing in their country. The level of satisfaction in the other countries ranges from a quarter in Libya to just over a half in Egypt.

As we have discussed above, the main driver of the uprisings was dissatisfaction with the economic situation (Figure 5). One important issues fuelling this dissatisfaction was high unemployment, especially among young people and with poor and declining employment opportunities for educated young people being a major concern. Other issues included a perceived decline in living standards and growing inequalities. Post-2011 Governments were not judged to be performing well on any of these issues in 2014. Tunisians were the least likely to think their government was delivering, with only four per cent of citizens thinking they were performing well in fighting inflation and reducing inequalities and nine per cent in creating employment opportunities. Egyptians were the most likely to think their government was performing well, but even here less than 40 per cent thought the government was performing well on employment creation, 30 per cent on inclusive development and just under a quarter on fighting inflation.

4.2.5. The Political Situation
There is likely to be a strong correlation between citizens’ rating of the political system and how they perceive government to be performing. We have already indicated that one of the concerns of citizens was that governments are not responsive to meeting their demands. The extent to which governments were seen to be performing well in public office differed significantly across the six countries but was not high in any. Libyans (14.8%) and Tunisians (19.6%) were the least satisfied and Egyptians (59.3%) and Jordanians (50%) the most.

The political system was not rated highly in any of the countries and was generally thought to have got worse between 2009 and 2014 (Figure 6). It was only in Egypt that citizens on average thought that that it had got better with citizens in Morocco thinking there had been little if any change. In the case of Jordan and Morocco this suggests that limited reform had done little, if anything, to improve the lives of ordinary people, and the findings are not surprising given the political and security situation in Libya and Iraq. The finding for Egypt is of interest given the debates around the extent to which the overthrow of the Muslim brotherhood government led by Morsi had popular support. Our finding of course only indicates that, on average, Egyptians rated the performance of their government as better in 2014 than in 2009 but with mean score being low in both years. The finding for Tunisia, with a noticeable decline in the rating, is of interest given that it was the one country that by 2014 seemed to be on a path to a democratic transition.

Turning to the Arab Barometer surveys that were carried out in 2011, just after the uprisings (June-July 2011 in Egypt and September-October 2011in Tunisia), and again in 2013 (Egypt March-April 2013 and Tunisia February 2013), we can try and make more sense of the transitions in both countries. When the Arab Barometer survey was carried out in Egypt in 2011 there was ongoing violence and the pace of change was slow, while in 2013 there were ongoing public protests against the Muslim Brotherhood Government of President Morsi. By the time the ArabTrans survey was carried out in November 2014 President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood had been ousted from power by the military and al-Sisi elected as President. The analysis suggests that the Egyptians thought that the government would deliver on 2011, that there was never overwhelming popular support for the Muslin Brotherhood (and following its election support for it went down) and that there is moderate support for President al-Sisi. In 2011 75 per cent of citizens evaluated the government’s performance as good and the same proportion though that the government was carrying out far reaching and fundamental reforms, but only 48 per cent said they trusted the Muslim Brotherhood. By 2013 0nly 11 per cent thought the government was performing well, 30 per cent thought that it was carrying out far reaching reforms and trust in the Muslim Brotherhood had fallen to 19 per cent. By 2014 the rating of government performance had gone up to 59 per cent.

The Arab Barometer survey was carried out in Tunisia in 2011 at the time of the post-Uprising elections which led to a victory for the Ennaheda, a moderate Islamist party. The 2013 survey was carried out in the period when Prime Minister Jebali resigned because the Ennahada party rejected his nominations for cabinet. By the time the ArabTrans survey was carried out in August 2014 the new Constitution had been adopted (January 2014) and the state of emergency lifted but before the Ennahada party lost power in the October 2014 elections. The analysis suggests that the Tunisians have become increasingly disillusioned about the potential for radical reform and with their government’s performance, although they never rated the latter very highly. In 2011 two thirds of citizens were moderately confident that the state would carry out fundamental reforms but only 43 per cent rated the governments performance as good. By 2014 the proportion thinking that the government was carrying out radical reforms had fallen to 50 per cent and the evaluation of the government’s performance as good had fallen to 24 per cent. By 2014 the evaluation of the government’s performance as good had decline marginally to 20 per cent.

4.2.6. Safety and Security
People were concerned about security in 2014, especially the security of their countries, and more so than they remembered they had been in 2009. Again, with the notable exception of Morocco the security system was seen to have deteriorated between 2009 and 2014 especially at country level (Figure 7). Jordanians were the least worried about security, although they did think the security situation had deteriorated between 2009 and 2014. Not surprisingly, Iraqis and Libyans were the most concerned in 2014 for the security of their countries; perhaps more surprisingly, they were closely followed by Tunisia.

Security starts with how safe people feel in their neighbourhood, and despite the concerns of citizens about security across the countries over 80 per cent of them felt safe always or mostly during the day (52% always) and over 70 per cent felt safe at night always or mostly (40% always). There were differences between countries, but even in Iraqi and Libya a substantial majority felt safe during the day and a majority at night (Iraq 72%/60%, Libya 75%/ 58%). This does of course leave a noticeable minority of people that do not feel safe during the day even in their own neighbourhood, ranging from 1 in 20 in Jordan to 1 in 4 in Iraq and Libya. At night, the range is from about 1 in 10 in Jordan who do not feel safe, through 1 in 4 in Egypt and Tunisia, to nearly 1 in 2 in Libya. A similar pattern emerges if we look at concerns about the security people had for their families although they seem generally to be much more concerned than they are about personal safety in their own neighbourhood. On a 5-point scale ranging from very concerned to not concerned the proportion giving a rating of 4 or 5 out of 5 ranged from 77 per cent in Jordan to around 5 0 per cent in Morocco and Egypt to 20 per cent in Libya. What is perhaps surprising is 42 per cent in Iraq which seems comparatively high. However, concern, not surprisingly varies by region given that so-called Islamic State (Daesh) was challenging for control of the Central Region when the survey was being carried out. Only 12 per cent gave the security of their family a mark of 4 or 5 out of 5 in the Central Region compared with 55 per cent in the Northern Region and 72 per cent in the Southern Region
Citizens were more concerned about national security: terrorist attacks in their country; an increase in sectarian or ethnic violence; worry about the possibility of civil war; and worry about war breaking out with another country. In three countries, more than half of respondents nominated security as one of the two main challenges facing their countries (Libya (62%), Iraq (60%) and Egypt (51%)), and in Tunisia 42 per cent did so. It was only in Morocco (13%) and Jordan (10%) that a small minority nominated this. Less than 10 per cent of respondents in Libya, Iraq and Tunisia gave a mark of 4 or 5 out of 5 for national security and only a quarter in Egypt. Even in Morocco and Jordan where there is less concern about security only 42 per cent and 52 per cent respectively gave a grade of 4 or 5 out of 5. There are regional differences in Iraq but the level of concern is very high across all the regions, with only three per cent giving a grade of 4 or 5 out of 5 in the Central region, five per cent in the Southern region and twelve per cent in the Northern region.

Concern about at least one security threat ranges from 91 per cent in Iraq to 45 per cent in Jordan (Figure 8). Iraq and Tunisia show the highest levels of concern, followed closely by Egypt and Libya and then Morocco and Jordan, which are the least concerned. It should be noted, however, that Egypt and Tunisia, and Morocco, are more concerned about terrorism than war or civil war; indeed, Tunisia has the greatest concern, followed by Iraq and Egypt, and exceeded Libya in this respect.

There were notable differences between countries in the extent to which they thought their governments were providing effective security. Perhaps not surprisingly citizens in Libya thought that their government ‘s performance was very poor with only eight per cent rating it as good/very good closely followed by Iraqi’s with only 17 per cent rating their government’s performance as good/very good. Conversely 88 per cent of Jordanians and 70 per cent of Egyptians rated their country’s performance as good/very good even though they thought that the security situation had deteriorated between 2009 and 2014 and in the case of Egypt were concerned about security threats. Perhaps what is more surprising is the low score given by the Tunisians with only 22 per cent rating their government’s performance as good/very good. They did however, think the situation had deteriorated, had been was growing discontent building up over parliament’s failure to pass an anti-terrorism law and fieldwork was carried out in August 2014 following the Chaambi terrorist attack in July 2014 when 50 soldiers had been killed by terrorists.

4.2.7. Democracy and Political Rights
Our findings, in line with previous research, show that unlike other regions across the globe there is no rising tide of support for political rights, democracy and gender equality; younger generations are no more likely to support democracy and political rights than older ones. There are also no gender differences in support for democracy and demand for political rights, although women are more supportive of gender equality than men. However, as we discuss below, support for gender equality is generally low.

As in previous research, most citizens agree or strongly agree that ‘democracy as a system may have its problems but is better than other systems’. This ranges from a low of 62 per cent in Egypt to a high of 90 per cent in Jordan (Figure 9). A majority also agree that democracy is compatible with Islam, or rather disagree that it is incompatible, ranging from 71 per cent of Moroccans and Iraqis to 59 per cent of Egyptians. This leaves, however, a noticeable number that do not agree that despite its faults democracy is the best form of government and/ or that Islam is compatible with democracy, questioning the often-made assumption that negative attitudes to democracy are not one of the barriers to its adoption in Arab countries.

Citizens do not think that their countries are democracies: only around a fifth agree in Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Iraq, rising to 32 per cent in Egypt, and 49 per cent in Jordan. Furthermore, citizens are not all convinced that democracy is a suitable form of government for their country in 2014. Only in Morocco do more than half (60.3%) think it is suitable, with around 40 per cent in Iraq, Jordan and Libya, and only around 30 per cent in Egypt and Tunisia. Taking procedural democracy (open multiparty elections) as a minimalist definition of what democracy means, many respondents see it as at least somewhat suitable for their country, ranging from a high of 89 per cent in Iraq to a low of 52 per cent in Egypt. However, when we consider those that unequivocally see procedural democracy as suitable for their country (i.e. consider it is the only political system that is suitable), support falls to 51 per cent in Iraq, around 38 per cent in Egypt and Tunisia, around a quarter in Jordan and Morocco and 17 per cent in Libya. Those who think democracy is the best system and that laws should be made according to the wishes of the people and who have more secular values are significantly less likely to think that an open parliamentary system is the only suitable form of government for their country. The reasons for these apparent contradictions are not entirely clear, but the question is crucial to policy design and public debate as well as to scholarship, and demands further analysis.

It is also important to understand what people understand when they talk about Democracy’. Changing governments through elections is often seen as the core defining feature of democracy. However, only just over 50 per cent of citizens in Iraq and Libya mentioned it as one of the two most important characteristics, falling to just over 40 per cent in Tunisia, 30 per cent in Morocco, 20 per cent in Jordan and just 16 per cent in Egypt. Freedom of speech was even less frequently mentioned, ranging from 30 per cent in Libya to around a quarter in Iraq and Tunisia, a fifth in Morocco and Jordan and just nine per cent in Egypt. Even fewer saw both as essential, ranging from 27 per cent in Iraq, through 17 per cent in Libya to 10 per cent in Tunisia, six per cent in Morocco and three per cent in Egypt and Jordan.

What was evident was that citizens wanted for their own countries some of the characteristics of countries which they see as democratic. In a context in which they saw their governments as failing to deliver on promises of either economic or political inclusion both before and after the Uprisings, people wanted the characteristics of a ‘decent society’: eliminating corruption, upholding economic rights (the availability of basic resources and of jobs), ‘equality’ items (political or economic) (Figure 10). What analysis of the ArabTrans data shows is that citizens wanted a society where they have economic security, are treated with dignity and respect by the authorities as well as by others, have a say in their lives, are able to have confidence in political, economic, and social institutions, trust other people, and are as free to develop their capabilities as is compatible with living in a society.

4.2.8. Corruption, Trust and the Rule of Law
For a country to work cohesively, with the potential for everyone to live comfortably within it, it is not necessary that there be identity of views or values or even goals, but there has to be agreement about the ‘rules of social engagement’. This is summed up in the concepts of ‘the rule of law’ or ‘the rules of the game’: once a rule or law is established, it is necessary for people to be able to trust others to follow it. Citizens in the six countries generally lacked trust in government, other institutions and people in general and were concerned about high levels of corruption. As we have discussed above, concern about high levels of government corruption was one of the two main drivers of the Uprisings and seen as a major challenge facing their countries in 2014. There was little trust in government, civil society organisations, the media or religious organisations. Countries where there are high levels of corruption and a lack of trust or confidence in institutions and other people in general make normal everyday interactions problematic. Corruption and the lack of trust break the cords that hold modern societies together.

A clear majority of citizens across the six countries thought there was corruption in government to at least a medium extent, varying from a high of 89 per cent in Morocco to a low of 70 per cent in Tunisia (Figure 11). Interestingly, 88 per cent of respondents in Egypt also said there was at least a medium amount of corruption. This suggests that the low score on corruption as one of the country’s two ‘main problems’ may have been the result of other factors being even more prominent at that point. In most countries surveyed, over half the population – and in some countries three-quarters – think the government is doing little or nothing to remedy this. Beyond monetary corruption, wasta was said to be influential in the allocation of jobs, ranging from 74 per cent in Libya saying it was common to 90 per cent in both Jordan and Tunisia.

Nor was there much confidence that government was working to crack down on corruption, with the partial exception of Egypt. The general view was that government was not making a concerted effort to combat corruption and root out bribes. In Tunisia, only six per cent thought they were doing so and less than 20 per cent in the other countries, with the exception of Egypt where it was 30 per cent. In all the countries, the figures are somewhat higher if we include those that think the government is making a medium effort but it is only in Egypt (65%) where this is more than half and it falls to only around a third in Tunisia, Iraqi and Libya and just over 40 per cent in Iraq and Morocco.

Confidence in Government was generally low and even more so in elected parliamentary representatives and political parties than in the Council of Ministers. Egypt stands out with citizens being noticeably much more likely to have confidence in the Council of Ministers than those in other countries and then in the elected parliament or political parties more generally. Libya is of interest because at the time of the survey there were three competing governments. Looking at the data regionally it is clear that there was greater confidence in the elected body and political parties in the South Region than the other two, with 46 per cent having confidence in both the elected body and political parties compared with 27 per cent in the West and 18 per cent in the East. In Iraq, as we discuss below, there is a clear sectarian divide in political attitudes and this is evident in their confidence in political institutions. While confidence is not high among Shiite or Sunni it is noticeable higher among the former. Just under third of Shiites have confidence in the Council of Ministers compared with only 12 per cent of Sunni, 13 per cent of Shiite have confidence in the elected parliament compared with eight per cent of Sunni and 43 percent of Shiite have confidence in political parties compared with 30 per cent of Sunni.

The courts pay an important role in checking the excesses of government and, independent courts play an essential role in ensuring the Rule of Law. Confidence in the legal system is generally somewhat higher than in political institutions but it is only in Egypt, Jordan and Libya that more than half of citizens have confidence, and it falls to just under 30 percent in Tunisia and Morocco. Confidence in the courts varies by region in Libya, with those in the south having the greatest confidence (63%) and those in the West the least (44%). In Iraq there is a very noticeable sectarian divide, with 55 per cent of Shi’ites having confidence in the courts compared with only 20 per cent of Sunni.

There was a general lack of trust in other people and in institutions that might be thought to provide independent advice and support. Across the six countries only a minority thought that they could trust other people in general, from a low of 16 per cent in Tunisia to 30 per cent in Egypt. Trust in the media was equally low, ranging from 13 per cent in Libya to 35 per cent in Iraq, and trust in civil society ranged from 22 per cent in Tunisia to 35 per cent in Morocco. Perhaps more surprisingly given the very high proportion of respondents that said they were at least religious to some extent, trust in religious leaders was not high. Only 12 per cent of Tunisians and 16 per cent of Libyans said that they trusted religious leaders, around a third of Moroccans and Jordanians and around a half of Egyptians and Iraqis.

4.2.9. Religion and Politics
Our findings, in line with those of other research, show that for a clear majority of men and women in the six countries religion is an important part of their daily lives and that many wish to see political values and public life infused by religious values. However, citizens do not think religious leaders should influence how people vote; around 80 per cent in all the countries disagree with this tendency, except in Morocco, where it is still 56 per cent. Similarly, with the notable exception of those in Iraq and Jordan, only a minority of citizens think religious leaders should influence political decisions – ranging from around 20 per cent in Tunisia and Egypt who support this, to around a third in Libya and Morocco, to around a half in Jordan and Iraq. Preference for a religious political party over a secular one varies by country, although it is only in Libya (61%) and Morocco (55%) that more than half prefer one: just over 40 per cent prefer religious parties in Iraq and Jordan, 27 per cent in Tunisia, and 16 per cent in Egypt. There is strong agreement in Tunisia, Egypt, and Iraq and to a lesser extent in Libya that there should be a separation between religious practices and socio-economic life in general, although only 47 per cent support this separation in Jordan and 44 per cent in Morocco. However, there is strong support for at least some law being based on shari’a; there is virtually no dissent from this position in four of the countries but around a fifth of citizens in Egypt and Tunisia think the law should be secular. There is much greater disagreement across the countries as to whether a Muslim who converts to another religion should be punished by execution. In Tunisia, only just over 10 per cent agree with this, with around a quarter doing so in Iraq and Morocco, but 59 per cent of citizens do in Egypt, and just over 70 per cent in Jordan and Libya.

The main dividing line of socio-political life in Iraq is often assumed to be sectarian, i.e. ethno-religious. As we have discussed above, internal security concerns tended to be driven by where people lived and there was a complex relationship between sectarian identity and economic attitudes. However, in terms of the political situation the division seemed to be more along religious lines: religious denomination was clearly the determining factor for trust or distrust in certain countries (regarding them as stabilising or destabilising), trust in other people, in civil society, religious leaders and in the army and the law courts. Trust in Government (the Council of Ministers) and Parliament was very low nationally but again religion denomination makes the most important difference, with Shiites having greater, albeit still low, trust in government than Sunnis. However, the vast majority of Iraqis expressed support for a representative parliamentary system. There was a clear preference across all three regions for a conventional ‘liberal’ party system open to both religious and secular parties as well as those of different political persuasions competing for the popular vote.

4.2.10. Gender
The countries which participated in the ArabTrans Survey are part of a belt of countries which extends from North African through the Muslim Middle East to South and East Asia. These countries, which include Hindu and Confucian majorities as well as Muslim ones, have historically been a homeland of patriarchal values and domestic government by the head of household. Women have tended to be regarded as less than full citizens – both in social norms and in law – to such an extent and with such consistency that patriarchal values are internalised in both genders and the female protest against it is not as strong as might be expected. Women do not share the same basic human rights as men (they are seen not only as different but as less than equal) and are not similarly empowered to develop and use their capabilities; they are at best treated second-class citizens and not fully included in society. The countries have some of the lowest economic activity rates, including for young women, across the world.

Our research shows that there is that there is little support among either men or women in the six MENA countries for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Women are much more supportive of rethinking gender stereotypes than men but even among women the level of support is often surprisingly low. The gap in support between men and women was noticeably larger in Morocco, Jordan and Iraq and lowest in Libya, with Tunisia and Egypt lying between.

The more educated, the better off and those living in urban areas are more supportive and those who would want all status law based on shari’a are less supportive. As in other research, age makes no difference, indicating that young people are no more supportive of gender equality and the empowerment of women than older ones and confirming that there has been no generational shift to more liberal values as has happened in other regions around the globe. The differences between countries was statistically significant, with Iraq being the most supportive, closely followed by Morocco and Tunisia, and Libya the least supportive closely followed by Egypt. Jordan lies between the two groups. This finding is much as would be expected. Egypt has long been recognised as one of the more restrictive countries for women’s rights in the MENA region and the information emerging from Libya since the fall of Gadhafi indicates very conservative attitudes to women’s rights. Tunisia and Morocco have been widely reported as having more progressive attitudes to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Iraq is not frequently mentioned in the literature as having progressive attitudes, but until the new Constitution of 2005 it had some of the most progressive status law in the region. We also found that since the beginning of the 21st Century attitudes towards gender equality and the empowerment of women have become more conservative in Egypt and less conservative in Morocco and Iraq among men and women, although it was only in Iraq that the sifts occurred after 2011. In Tunisia, support for personal status law being enacted in accordance with shari’a has increased noticeably since the 2011 Uprisings, possibly due to the greater political freedom to express religious views in the country since the fall of Ben Ali.

The codification of gender norms into law gives them greater legitimation and enforcement by legal sanctions. While there are different interpretations of shari’a across the six countries all include the acceptance of some rules that create women as second class citizens, giving them different and inferior rights to men. In Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Libya at the time the ArabTrans Survey was carried out the constitutions stated that personal status law was to be based on shari’a and in Morocco to be guided by it. Only in Tunisia was there no constitutional requirement that shari’a underpin personal status law, although the country still retains personal status laws that discriminate against women. Both Morocco and Tunisia had withdrawn all reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, with the other countries still having reservation mainly relating to family law. Across the six surveyed countries we found very strong support for both personal status law and property law being based on shari’a (Figure 13), although this in itself is not surprising given the traditional role which religious institutions have in the MENA and elsewhere in carrying out certain civil functions (e.g. registering births, marriages, deaths, etc.). That being said, support for personal status law being based on such religious principles is noticeably lower in Tunisia than in other surveyed countries. Differences between men and women within countries are negligible indicating that women as well as men think that women’s status should be different to and inferior to that of men.

4.3. Major Findings II: EU-MENA Relations
The ArabTrans project set itself the goal of analysing both EU policy and MENA populations’ perceptions of the EU, to provide a better understanding of a key component of EU-MENA relations and identify possible areas of convergence. To do this, the project analysed on the one hand EU policy (see 3.3.1 below), and on the other hand MENA populations’ perceptions of the EU (see 3.3.2 below).

From a policy standpoint, the Arab Uprisings were not simply momentous events in local and regional history: they also represented a political opportunity for EU governments and for the Union as a whole. The Uprisings presented European policymakers with the opportunity to design a policy framework which could achieve the EU’s strategic and economic interests, respect its commitments to its ‘fundamental values’, and respond to popular demands for change in the Middle East, especially to the possibility of democratic change. To do this, it was important to find a framing of EU policy compatible with MENA populations’ priorities. The ArabTrans project was designed to analyse the compatibility of these two aspects, first through a detailed policy analysis, and second through a specifically-designed battery of questions in the 2014 ArabTrans surveys. In brief, these analyses produced an accurate ‘map’ of the differences between conceptions of democracy in particular on the two shores of the Mediterranean, and while this has not yet been achieved, these ‘maps’ could be used to frame an ambitious Neighbourhood Policy aiming to achieve geopolitical stabilisation, democratization, and development.

With regard to MENA populations’ perceptions, the project’s remit was both to provide information - which until that point had been sporadic at best, if not entirely missing – on what people thought of the EU, its policies, and key issues such as economics, security and democracy, with the aim of informing EU policy. This information shows that while most people have a low opinion of the EU, they are also unaware of its specific support activities (e.g. development programmes); those who do know about them – while few – tend to have better opinions of the Union. The data also shows, as we have discussed above, that MENA populations prioritise not just civil and political human rights, but also social justice and economic security, in a way that EU policy currently does not.

With regard to EU external policy, in the wake of the Arab Uprisings, many from both outside and inside the EU called for a ‘paradigm shift’. Specifically, it was considered vital both to place greater priority on responding to popular demands for change in the region, and to move away from tacitly supporting the region’s authoritarian rulers. These calls were made not just on moral grounds, but also because previous approaches – which viewed autocrats as essential bulwarks against regional instability and accepted their claims that their populations were ‘not ready for democracy’ – were patently not serving the interests of European regional and domestic stability. In this sense, the EU pledged to learn from past mistakes, and take a ‘qualitative step forward’ in the design and implementation of the Neighbourhood Policy.

4.3.1. The New European Neighbourhood Policy: Tried, Tested, and Failed
A key aspect of the ArabTrans project was a focus on EU-MENA relationships, and specifically on the impact of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) as operated in the MENA region and its revised format after the events of 2010-11. Of particular concern was the EU’s democracy assistance (DA) policy, and the role claimed for DA, namely of acting as an ‘umbrella’ for other policies towards the region, including security, development, mobility, and migration. However, detailed document analysis shows that the EU’s own claims – that post-Uprisings ENP revisions present a ‘qualitative step forward’ and respond to popular demands expressed during the Uprisings – cannot be sustained.

In the wake of the Arab Uprisings the EU pledged to learn from past mistakes, and take a ‘qualitative step forward’ in the design and implementation of the Neighbourhood Policy. However, analysis of policy documents published in the wake of the Uprisings shows that little changed in practice. While the EU stresses the importance of working in partnership, to what extent it does so in practice – e.g. whether its policies meet the needs and expectations of the partner states and indeed of their citizens as the ultimate rights holders – remains far from clear. The EU’s policy towards the Southern Neighbourhood is underpinned by an assumption of shared interests in democracy, security and prosperity through market liberalisation and trade. The emerging consensus is that, in implementing its policy, the EU conflates its own interests with those of other countries, attempts to export its norms and values as if they were universal and non-contentious, and does so in practice in a way that often contradicts those values themselves.

The policy is normative in that it portrays one political-economic ‘form of life’ – Western-style liberal democracy – as the right vision for all countries. Democracy Assistance policy is built upon a ‘tripod’ consisting of (1) political changes amounting to democratisation understood as the combination of regular ‘free and fair’ elections and certain civil and political rights; (2) economic development to provide a basis for a government’s ability to provide decent lives for its citizens, and (3) conditionality, with both positive reinforcement and negative sanctions to shape governments’ behaviour in the direction of democratisation. Gender equality and women’s rights are among the rights acknowledged as a ‘fundamental value’ for the EU as well being recognised as central to building sustainable democracies, economic growth and social development. Neither the general structure and goals of this policy framework nor its instruments (and operationalization) suggest a significant difference from pre-Uprisings Neighbourhood Policy. This continuity can be illustrated with respect to all three key policy areas listed above: democracy, development, and delivery (conditionality).

Democracy without Social Justice
The documents framing the new ENP claim that while avoiding a single model of democracy, the EU should aim to encourage ‘deep democracy’. However, the model of democracy these documents present is in fact demonstrably as ‘thin’ or ‘shallow’ as its pre-Uprisings predecessors. While emphasising the ‘deep’ normative internalisation necessary for democracy, the model focuses nearly exclusively on formal and procedural aspects of democracy to the detriment of substantive aspects. In particular, the documents focus on what some MENA activists have called ‘easy rights’, such as the right to vote, as opposed to more sensitive civil-political rights such as freedom of association and of protest. Moreover, these documents systematically underestimate the role of social justice and economic rights in sustaining and ‘deepening’ democracy – which ought to be surprising since socio-economic rights and the actors who fight for them have been central to the trajectory of European democratization.

The pursuit of such policies, which do not recognise or adapt to popular needs and demands for social justice and economic rights, have predictably produced considerable disenchantment with the EU and particularly with its claim to be a ‘normative power’ committed to democracy. Few ArabTrans respondents wanted the EU to promote its particular brand of ‘thin’, procedural democracy in which civil and political rights remain decoupled from social and economic rights. Few respondents thought the EU had done a good job of facilitating transitions to democracy in their country, and few had much appetite for EU involvement in the domestic politics of their countries.
Unfortunately, there is no sign of the EU looking beyond orthodox approaches to democracy, which prioritise civil-political rights over socio-economic rights. In addition, the shift back towards ‘bilateral’ civil society support, i.e. through governments or government-dominated institutions, undercuts the independence and scope for action civil society groups have in MENA societies. More generally, the Libyan, Iraqi, and Syrian crises, and latterly the refugee flow towards Europe – however proportionally modest compared to the impact on domestic and cross-border displacement – have all marked a slow drift back towards those very old approaches which have been tried and tested, and failed.

Development and ‘Market Democratization’
Although preambles of EU policy documents and public statements by EU officials emphasise the need for economically inclusive approaches to development, actual strategies for economic development in the MENA region continue to rely on free trade agreements and loans. Where pre-Uprisings documents spoke of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) post-Uprisings policy speaks of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs), but the latter differ from the former merely in how vigorously their objectives are pursued – in speed and intensity of privatizations proposed – but not in the goals or methods themselves. In theory, such reforms are justified on the basis that privatization of state enterprises and fostering free markets produces not just market liberalization, but also an embryonic political liberalization as entrepreneurs debate appropriate laws and realise the importance of a transparent and equal playing field. On this argument, privatization produces market liberalization, which in turn produces political liberalization, believed to be the precondition for democratization. However, in practice, such strategy has had deleterious effects in the past, increasing the polarisation of income and wealth distribution, not least by facilitating the emergence of monopolies and crony capitalism, and thereby contributing to the conditions for the Uprisings.

Public opinion surveys in the region, including the ArabTrans survey, show that people’s priorities were and remain decent jobs, economic security, adequate public services, and the rule of law. This is not to say that narrowly defined civil and political rights – such as are characteristic of the ‘democracy promotion’ policies espoused by Western governments – are unimportant. Indeed, other research suggests they remain crucial. But the fact that much rhetoric on these issues in the past has translated into few tangible results, combined with the polarisation of wealth and worsening social mobility, is likely to have contributed to popular emphasis on social justice. Where the rhetoric of political inclusion has failed them, people are turning their concerns to economic inclusion. What respondents expressed in 2011 was deep dissatisfaction with ‘façade democracies’ and with the effects of the economic policies which the EU and its Western allies had encouraged, cajoled, and incentivised the MENA countries to implement since the 1980s. The same concerns were still being expressed by 2014. Given this context, it is not surprising that the EU was seen by respondents as complicit in creating the very conditions against which protesters in the Uprisings revolted.

The EU claims to have responded to the Uprisings by moving from negative conditionality to a ‘more-for-more’ approach which rewards progress as well as sanctioning regress. However, pre-2011 policy spoke of ‘positive conditionality’ in precisely such terms, and the lack of progress towards greater democracy between the 1990s and 2011 when the Uprisings broke out is shown by the scores of the countries on the Polity IV Index. This is one of the most highly regarded measures of political systems available, which measures the degree of democracy and degree of autocracy separately and combines the two measurements into one indicator ranging from pure autocracy (-10) to pure democracy (+10). Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia all improved on their Polity2 scores (became less autocratic) in the early 1990s, but Tunisia and Jordan became more autocratic in the 2000s rather than less. Egypt improved its score in the late 2000s. Libya was autocratic throughout the period. By 2010 Morocco was deemed an autocracy, with a score of -6, and Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia were on the autocratic side of the mid-point with scores of -3, -3 and -4 respectively. One real but rarely discussed driver of the policy is the need to maintain stability in the EU’s southern neighbours - for their sake because stability is required for steady and reliable economic development, and for the EU’s because its neighbours are the buffer area between the EU itself and a number of regimes and social formations which do not have its interests at heart. As is so often the case when a developed power sets out with good intentions to improve the lives of ordinary citizens in a developing area, the prerequisite of stability tacitly rewards regime maintenance rather than regime change and so tends to support autocrats in power provided they are effective at what they do. Despite the lack of real progress in democratisation and recognition of human rights the EU consistently failed to implement conditionality clauses designed to provide incentives for reform, nor did it impose sanctions for lack of progress.

The ‘more-for-more’ conditionality principle was presented as furnishing ENP with positive as well as negative conditionality, supplementing the toolkit of policy options in this area among others. In practice, negative conditionality remains unlikely to be imposed, not least because several Member States take the view that it damages local populations without affecting governments. For these instruments to be effective, the Union would need to takes a more assertive position on the operationalization and application of conditionality clauses. In practice, conventional approaches to security and to economic ties have returned to dominate the EU agenda five years after the Uprisings, further eroding its credibility as a ‘normative actor’.

The EU as a Normative Power: Evaluating Priorities and Practices
The ‘fourth leg’ of the EU’s external action ‘tripod’, which often remains invisible or inconspicuous under the mantle of higher rhetoric, is that the EU takes a proactive interest in its Southern
Neighbourhood for its own social, economic, political, and security reasons. Its policies are primarily dictated by local geopolitical and geo-economic concerns, as much within the Union’s domestic politics than in the politics of its Neighbourhood, but from its inception as a Union it also intended to project its influence globally. The EU has tried to develop its own unique policy position and stake a claim for itself as a player both in the region and on the world stage. The Union’s rhetoric has positioned it as a liberal-democratic normative power-seeking actor attempting to redefine international norms in its own image, and as an actor on the world stage it seeks to change norms in the international system. By contrast, some describe the EU in practice as a ‘Realist’ actor in Liberal clothing – i.e. with a foreign policy driven by conventional concerns about narrowly-conceived security, but dressed in the language of political and economic cooperation based on the pursuit of shared values. Certainly, the EU presents democracy and human rights as its ‘fundamental values’, which it is committed to realising both internally and externally.

The principal instruments of this goal for those countries with a prospect of membership are the benefits of union itself, while for those countries – such as those of the ‘Southern Neighbourhood’ – for which membership is not an option it is the prospect of economic benefits from trade relations and of economic sanctions where human rights conditions are not implemented that the Union hopes will act as a ‘carrot-and-stick’ motor of social, economic, and political transformation. Political and economic progress are seen as the inevitable result of a model that could be described as ‘market democratisation’: neo-liberal economic policies – taken as the only way a modern economy can be run ¬– are believed to be the drivers of a latter-day civilising/modernisation process. However, the requirements of stability, to maintain the region’s security, have tended to mean that the ‘stick’ is not much in evidence, because the EU needs it neighbours probably as much as the neighbours need the EU; whether or not the neighbours act as the EU would wish or require them to act, they still remain neighbours and still guarantee some part of the EU’s border.

4.3.2. Popular Knowledge and Perceptions of EU Involvement in the Middle East: Findings from the ArabTrans Survey
The second ‘pillar’ of the ArabTrans project’s analysis of EU-MENA relations was to provide vital data on and analysis of the perception of the EU in MENA populations. While the EU stresses the importance of working in partnership, to what extent it does so in practice – e.g. whether its policies meet the needs and expectations of the partner states and indeed of their citizens as the ultimate rights holders – remains far from clear. The EU’s policy towards the Southern Neighbourhood is underpinned by an assumption of shared interests in democracy, security and prosperity through market liberalisation and trade. The emerging consensus is that, in implementing its policy, the EU conflates its own interests with those of other countries, attempts to export its norms and values as if they were universal and non-contentious, and does so in practice in a way that often contradicts those values themselves.

Novel findings from the ArabTrans research include the perceptions of the EU in the MENA region and what the people of the region want the EU to do for them. The survey was specifically designed not only to provide information on how citizens viewed the EU and its involvement with their countries but also the extent to which they thought EU policies addressed their concerns. The wave of popular protests and demands for regime change which spread across the MENA region in 2010-11 was unprecedented, and in the media and in scholarly literature it was frequently either stated explicitly or assumed implicitly that what people were demanding was ‘Western-style democracy,’ understood as free and fair elections, a certain subset of human rights (mostly civil-political) and the rule of law, in line with the ENP. It also shows that, as we have discussed above, citizens are as much if not more concerned about economic security and their governments fighting corruption as they are about procedural democracy and political rights. Our findings suggest that what citizens want is social justice, economic rights, and fight against corruption rather than strictly, explicitly, or exclusively for Western-style (neo)liberal democracy.

The EU, sometimes described as a ‘normative actor’, certainly sees its fundamental values as central not only to its internal position but also to its external relations, However, although it is perceived more favourably than other global powers, MENA respondents did not necessarily see the Union as supporting either democracy or development. Thirty-one per cent of respondents saw the EU as a force for instability in the region and 41 per cent as a force for stability, The USA was seen as a greater destabilising influence, by 52 per cent of respondents, with only a third seeing it as a force for stability. Egypt had the most negative attitudes to the EU of these seven countries, with only 15 per cent seeing it as a force for stability, while at the other extreme 54 per cent of Moroccans saw it as a stabilising force. Only the Arab League was rated as a greater force fort stability than the EU, and even then, by only a small margin (44%). Across the six countries of the ArabTrans Survey, Russia (32%) and China 25%) were seen as a threat to stability by a smaller proportion of respondents than the EU, with the notable exception of Jordan, where 56 per cent of respondents saw Russia as a threat. However, these tow powers were also less likely to be seen as a force for stability, with Russia at 26 per cent and China at 31 per cent.

Despite their relatively high rating as a force for stability, EU countries were not often nominated by respondents as ones with which they would like to see their own country form closer relations (Figure 14). In response to an open question respondents nominated a total of 58 countries but only seven per cent of respondents nominated an EU member state, with the three most frequently mentioned being Germany (2.5%), France (2.3% and the UK (1.6%). Nine other EU countries were mentioned by less than one per cent of respondents. By contrast, the US was nominated by 6.3 per cent of respondents across all countries, Turkey by 7.7 per cent, Russia by 2.4 per cent, China by 2.6 per cent and Iran by 1.4 per cent. When asked specifically with which European state they would like their country to have closer relations, 53 did not name any and only 39 per cent named an EU member state. In total, 16 member states were nominated, with only Germany (13.4%). and the UK (11.3%) achieving double digits Only four other member states received more than one per cent of the nominations: Italy (6.2%), Spain (2.9%), Sweden (2.2%) and the Netherlands (1.1%). Regardless of the intentions or merits of EU policies, it would appear that the majority of respondents have little appetite for closer relations with either the EU as a whole or its component parts.

Respondents were also asked about their perception of the EU’s impact in specific policy areas, particularly democracy and development (Figure 15). Overall, only a third thought the EU had a positive impact on the development of democracy in their countries, roughly the same response as for the USA. However, there was considerable variation in response across countries: nearly half of respondents in Libya and 41 per cent in Morocco thought the EU had a positive influence, compared with a mere six per cent in Egypt. To the extent that people agreed that the EU should be involved in their country at all, they thought it should be to support economic development. Overall, one in two did not think the EU should have any involvement in policy in their country at all, and only 16 per cent said that the most positive thing the Union could do would be to promote democracy. On the other hand, support for economic development stood at 43 per cent. There was some variation by country, but the pattern was quite clear: promoting economic development was the most frequently nominated response in all countries, albeit by less than half the respondents across the six countries.

Less than a third of respondents said that they had actually heard about EU development assistance to their country in general, varying from 56 per cent in Libya to a mere nine per cent in Egypt. Of those who had heard of it, a majority held positive opinions about it, varying form 92 per cent in Iraq to 57 per cent in Egypt. Nearly twice as many people (63%) said they had heard about EU programmes specifically responding to the Arab Uprisings. However, only 24 per cent evaluated the impact of these programmes positively and exactly the same proportion overall thought they had had a negative impact. Libyan respondents were the most positive by a considerable margin, at 35 per cent, and the Egyptians were the least positive (only 3.4%).

When asked to name the two most important things the EU could offer in their support, over 90 per cent gave at least one example (Figure 16). Various kinds of financial support were most frequently mentioned, with 56 per cent of respondents naming at least one out of support for basic services, for jobs, investment and/or loans and grants. There was noticeable variation by country: 76 per cent mentioned financial support in Egypt, compared to 49 per cent in Libya. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the security situation respondents in Libya and Iraq were more likely to suggest that the best way the EU could provide support would be to support their military. It is interesting to note that while nearly three quarters (74.5%) thought that Israel had a destabilising effect on the region – ranging from 89 per cent in Iraq through 83 per cent in both Jordan and Egypt to 63 per cent in Libya and 59 per cent in Morocco – only nine per cent suggested ceasing to support Israel as a way in which the EU could offer support to MENA countries.

To sum up, the 2014 ArabTrans survey appears to show that people in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia have a low opinion of the EU’s claims to be a normative actor, to facilitate democratisation and development or even to be a force for stability in their region. People are on average not very familiar with the EU’s work in the region, though when they do know about it they appreciate it. However, the Union’s specific response to the Arab Uprisings is not judged positively.
More broadly, citizens were expressing deep dissatisfaction with neoliberal economic policies, policies which the EU – along with its Western allies – had pressed MENA countries into implementing from the 1980s onwards. Survey respondents were not convinced by the EU’s claim it could respond appropriately to the challenges posed by the Arab Uprisings and were at least implicitly hostile to leadership claims entailed by the EU’s self-imposed role as a normative actor committed to supporting democracy in the region. Survey data suggest a considerable disjuncture between the declared intentions behind EU policy – leading to objectives that seems far from what ordinary people across the region are looking for – and the perception of challenges and priorities in public opinion across surveyed MENA states. This disconnect is likely to be at the root of the poor reputation the EU enjoys amongst regional respondents.

The ArabTrans data suggest that the problem lies partly in the goals and instruments of the EU’s policies themselves. The facts that respondents have a generally poor opinion of the EU’s efforts at democracy promotion and that democracy ranks very low among areas on which respondents would like to see the EU focus are not results of a culturally determined or religiously mandated aversion to democracy. Rather, they seem to be related on the one hand to a mismatch between the conception of democracy contained in EU documents and the conception of it which the survey data suggest is held by MENA public opinion committed to democracy, and on the other hand to respondents’ socio-political priorities more generally. While the former focuses on formal institutions and processes, for the latter the substantive aspects of democracy – inclusion, social justice, etc. – are also important, and inextricable from formal or procedural considerations.

Potential Impact:
5 Dissemination and Potential Impact
5.1 Dissemination
Consortium research has been disseminated in several international fora which have allowed project research to provide inputs to scientific and policy discussions, and to public debates. Consortium members have been invited to present project results at major international scientific gatherings, as well as giving invited talks to international stakeholders. In addition, project work has resulted in considerable media engagement by consortium partners, who have appeared in major national and international print and broadcast media. Consortium members have also taken part in public events to provide input from project research into public discussion – for example, taking part in several discussions on the state of Egyptian and Middle Eastern politics at the Turin International Book Fair, Europe’s second largest book fair.

Consortium research has been disseminated on two levels: at a national level, all partners disseminated findings in their own country, including to policymakers, academic audiences, and the media; at the international level, the Aberdeen team coordinated dissemination to policymakers and the media. At both these levels, dissemination took place in several international fora which have allowed project research to provide inputs to scientific discussion, policy deliberation and public debate.

5.1.1 Scholarship and Publications
Consortium members have been invited to present project results at major international scientific gatherings, and have been engaged in and are currently developing academic publications including scientific articles and books.An indicative list of conferences at which findings were discussed and disseminated would include several key national and international scholarly fora, such as the International Sociological Association (Sept. 2016), European Consortium for Political Research (September 2016), British Society for Middle East Studies (June 2015), Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religion (June 2016), the International Political Science Association (July 2016) and several others, including ad hoc workshops, the smaller membership of which permits sustained and intensive exchanges which are also particularly conducive to establishing future working relations.

Project plenaries
Broad dissemination through events organized exclusively by the Consortium was undertaken in particular at the project plenaries held in Rome (Dec. 2015), Edinburgh (May 2016) and a final dissemination-focused events held in Brussels (September 2016). These were aimed at policymakers and other stakeholders.

This dissemination activity has been crucial in facilitating the establishment and consolidation of networks of expertise and disseminating innovative project results at scientific, policy, and public levels.

Publications: ArabTrans Working Papers Series
The ArabTrans Working Papers Series is designed to present work in progress by Consortium partners which is of notable academic and/or policy value. Working Papers have been published on specialist topics such as sectarianism in Iraq and the EU policy response to the Arab Uprisings. The Working Papers were granted an ISSN designation and uploaded on the most popular academic social media (, ResearchGate, and Social Science Research Net) where they have been viewed and downloaded several hundred times.

Working Papers have been made available under Creative Commons licensing in order to maximise dissemination without compromising the integrity of scientific analysis conducted by the Consortium.
5.1.2: Policy input and public discussion

Policy Input: Policy Briefs and Events
The project involved the production of two European Policy Briefs for the European Commission. These were published in the Summer of 2016, so it is too early to assess their academic impact. However, beyond simply being placed on the project website, the Briefs have alsoi been uploaded on the most popular academic social media (,, and the Social Science Research Network, where they have been viewed and downloaded well over 1,000 times in less than six months.

Consortium members have also given public talks which have generated interest in the project and disseminated its results, ranging from talks at the Spui25 public engagement events co-hosted by the University of Amsterdam to participation in the high-profile policymakers’ event Mediterranean Dialogues (MED2015), where project results on Libya in particular were presented.
There has been considerable interest expressed in these briefs by stakeholders, and, alongside public engagement talks and other project outputs, they have resulted in invitations from stakeholders including the European Commission, Australia's Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Development (MINBUZA), as well as interest from several other policymaking bodies and potential academic partners.

Public Debate: Media
ArabTrans project work produced engagement with both national and international media in print, radio, online and television.. There has been considerable media engagement by consortium partners, who have appeared in major national and international print and broadcast media, including but not limited to BBC (UK), The Washington Post (US), ABC and SBS (Australia), Voice of America (USA), RAI (Italy), To Vima (Greece), and VICE News Italia (Italy).

In addition, project members have participated in and/or contributed to organising a number of events which included project experts and discussed project topics but were aimed at engaging the general public in debate on the themes raised by the project. Consortium members have taken part in public events to provide input from project research into public discussion. For example, project members took part in several discussions on Egyptian and Middle Eastern politics, on Western policy towards the region, and the impact of the region itself on Europe at the Turin International Book Fair – Europe’s second largest book fair after the Frankfurt Buchmesse, the world’s largest. Consortium members were also instrumental in organising a workshop held at the University of Turin in which similar discussions – particularly focusing on the post-Uprisings wave of neo-authoritarian practices by MENA regimes – were aimed at a scholarly audience but involved non-academic stakeholders including media and civil society actors. Consortium members were also engaged in several other events aimed at the general public, ranging from talks for the Sydney Ideas Network to the UK Festival of Social Science (FoSS). Project staff were also invited to speak at public events in as far-flung places as Yokohama (Japan), Miami (USA) and Melbourne (Australia).

In brief, the ongoing interest of major stakeholders and the media provides an avenue for ongoing input of project results into scientific and public debate:
• Public availability of the 2014 survey dataset and the 2000-2015 longitudinal database;
• Series of lectures to public bodies and policy makers: continuing interest by policy-makers, journalists, and other stakeholders in project results;
• Website & Social Media: the website provides a repository for all legacy materials, but will also continue to be updated with relevant items (e.g. Working Papers);
• Interviews with media (print, radio, television, online): Consortium members continue to be sought by media for the expertise they brought to and developed through the ArabTrans project.
• Policy Briefs: short, data-driven analyses of important policy-relevant issues written in easily accessible language;
• Working Papers Series: given the popularity of thematic and country reports, a number of additional Working Papers are being planned for publication on the project website and social media;
• Academic outputs: Currently being developed both in the form of a series of journal articles and authored and edited volumes, with books having been planned by the Aberdeen team based on project outputs, and several publishers already having expressed an interest in these.

5.2 Potential Impact

The ArabTrans project has a variety of potential impacts including changes in policy, socio-economic development, scientific expertise, and capacity-building. During the project, the Consortium carried out a series of dissemination activities – the nature of which is outlined above – and are continuing to increase both the dissemination and the impact of the project following the conclusion of the funding. The project has a potentially wide-ranging impact in at least three kinds of ways:
1) in relation to the data it provides for policy analysis and policymaking, including impact on socio-political and economic aspects of policymaking;
2) in relation to the data it provides for scholarship;
a. providing input into future survey-based public opinion studies;
b. providing a platform for developing innovative comparative analysis, both within the MENA region and beyond it.
3) Providing foundations for a more and better informed public debate.

5.2.1 Potential Scholarly Impact
The project outputs will contribute to the academic world in a number of ways, including new techniques and a better understanding of EU-MENA relations, the causes of the Arab Uprisings and processes of democratisation or authoritarian reaction and learning.
In terms of scholarship, the ArabTrans project has had two major types of impact, namely at the level of results (such as are outlined above) and at the level of methods.
• At the level of analysis, while project data are still being processed and translated into scholarly outputs, a number of important results have already become apparent including those challenging conventional acceptance that there are high levels of support for liberal democracy in the region, that supporters of the 2011 Uprisings were mainly protesting for political rights and that the EU does not have a positive image in the region.
• During the course of the project, a new tool for data quality assurance was developed by a member of the Steering Committee. Called PercentMatch, it looks not just for cases which have identical responses, a facility which has been available on SPSS for some while, but cases where responses are more similar than would be expected by chance alone, to a specified level of similarity. It has recently been shown that there is an extremely high likelihood that such near-duplicates are the result of either incorrect interviewing procedure (signalling the need for better training) or fraudulent practices by the interviewer and/or the fieldwork agency; rather than being genuinely collected, survey data are effectively ‘made up’ by some process. The PercentMatch technique has been applied to the ArabTrans survey and several other opinion surveys that were carried out in the past and included in the broader ArabTrans study, and it has already revealed some cases which need to be discarded as insufficiently reliable or potentially fraudulently constructed. Partly as a result of this, PercentMatch is highly likely to become a standard part of the survey team field kit in future years.
• Also at the level of research methods, Consortium members have engaged in extensive debates about survey design, which have provided an input into future survey-based public opinion studies (e.g. ArabBarometer Wave 5). One aspect which became clear in the course of the project is that despite growing attention towards the region in the past 15-20 years, survey data are particularly patchy, constituting a major obstacle to broader comparisons and deeper analysis: in attempting to improve policy design in both the short and longer terms, policymakers could make a major contribution by encouraging funding for systematic comparative public opinion data collection. At the same time, the limits of survey research in the interpretation of respondents’ answers are apparent: funding multi-method studies drawing both quantitative and qualitative data is crucial in order to improve the accuracy of analysis of data such as public opinion surveys.
• In addition, the project has affected scholarly capacity-building by contributing to progressing the careers of several early-career researchers and by contributing to capacity building among Consortium partners.

5.2.2 Potential Policy Impact
Potential for policy change from the ArabTrans project comes in the form of a critique of the current EU policy approach to the MENA region generally and to the Arab Uprisings in particular. While all innovative scholarly results outlined above have specific policy implications and can provide valuable input into improving policy design, the scope of policy input and potential impact for the entirety of the project canalso be glimpsed by considering its results from the point of view of socio-political cohesion and its ramifications.

Project survey data suggest considerable popular disaffection with the economic as well as the political status quo, low satisfaction with the current state of affairs, low confidence that things will improve, and generally low trust in political and religious leaders and in state institutions. Conversely, however, these results provide a template for achieving political inclusion generally and democracy in particular. For example, surveyed populations clearly demand that socio-economic substance be added to the promise of the civil and political freedoms of a democracy, which themselves remain as yet unfulfilled. People also clearly demand equity and action against corruption, which is not just an injustice but also a significant drain on balanced and inclusive economic development; it is also well-established that gender inclusivity also contributes to more balanced development. The absence of action on these fronts undermines trust and social cohesion, reduces societal resilience, increases the likelihood of political mobilisation, and creates the structural contexts in which political radicalisation can take place. Conversely, acting on these fronts can create a ‘virtuous circle’ increasing equity, inclusivity, socio-political cohesion and thus reducing the long-term likelihood of radicalisation and violence. In addition, greater internal cohesion and stability would inevitably ‘spill over’ into greater regional and trans-regional stability, reducing both ‘push factors’ for migration and the likelihood of societal disintegration generating refugee flows or political violence. Finally, greater stability through greater inclusion also increases range of policy instruments and responses available to both local governments and their international counterparts, allowing local governments in particular to avoid the ‘ferocity impasse’ which has been a notable characteristic of Middle Eastern regimes - the fact that where the lack of socio-economic and political inclusivity erodes regimes’ legitimacy and is not met with inclusive responses it increases the incentive for autocratic regimes to resort to repression, which in turn further erodes cohesion and thus legitimacy, generating precisely the fierce-but-fragile regimes shaken by the Arab Uprisings.

In addition, there are certain specific results that could make significant contribution to both policy design and broader public debates about policy. For example, project data shows that the relationship between Islam and politics is highly complex and varies both within and between Middle Eastern countries: and because there is no such thing as a single monolithic ‘political Islam’, any policy designed to tackle such a monolithic entity is set up to fail, at best. In addition, project data also suggests that democracy without immediate attention to social justice – not just as a long-term aim – is likely to produce greater political polarisation and lower societal cohesion and adaptable resilience. Perhaps even more severe is the risk that in the eyes of disaffected portions of public opinion such polarisation eventually undermine the confidence not just in political elites or in the implementation of democracy, but in democracy itself.

To regain regional credibility and offer a political, social and economic vision capable of meeting both regional and global challenges, and crucially its own interests, the EU should consider a response that rethinks not just the instruments but also the substantive objectives of its approach to the promotion of democracy, development, and regional stability and security.
• Evidence suggests that funding design for civil society is inadequate. For example, the EU could explore alternative types of programmes to fund, focusing on socio-economic rights as well as challenging civil-political rights such as freedom of association and protest. It could also broaden the types of organisations its funding targets, exercising particular care to avoid funding ‘GONGOs’ in autocratic environments. It should look beyond orthodox approaches to democracy to give greater priority to socio-economic rights, integrating itself more systematically into the holistic human rights agenda articulated in the Sustainable Development Goals and paying attention to the link between social justice and the effective exercise of civil and political rights.
• In the light of ArabTrans data, the Union could also reconsider the design, goals, and methods of its economic strategy for investment and for economic reforms. Specifically, it could move away from instruments such as special industrial zones and free trade agreements. In their current incarnations these have been shown to produce the opposite of inclusive growth and stability, undermining workers’ rights, pay and conditions while worsening socio-economic dislocation, undermining legitimacy, and increasing the likelihood of political radicalisation. While free trade agreements may not be deleterious in themselves, in their existing forms they have notably ignored well-known effects such as reductions in the tax base, increasing capital flight, growing inequalities, and slowing social mobility.
Such measures have the potential to create a virtuous circle of greater socio-economic inclusion and political stability, both domestically and regionally. Among other positive results, they are likely to reduce the potential for political radicalisation and providing a natural disincentive to migration without leaving European governments beholden to leverage from authoritarian regimes.

5.2.3 Potential Socio-Economic Impact
The Project data suggest that people’s motivation for supporting or taking part in the Arab Uprisings were factors such as the lack of well-paying jobs, the depth and breadth of corruption, the lack of state service provision, the polarisation of income and wealth, etc. – overall, the lack of a politically or economically ‘decent’ society. This has implications for domestic economic policy, but as far as international actors and the EU in particular are concerned, project results have clear implications at the level of economic and trade policies. The data suggest that democracy without social justice produces skewed economic development, greater political polarisation and lower resilience, as noted above. This in turn suggests that in order to redress such political imbalances it is necessary for policy to target socio-economic polarisation, without which political reconciliation risks being only temporary. Specifically, the skewed economic development observed in surveyed countries over the past decades – and particularly its role in generating disaffection and distrust and in mobilising protest – suggests the need, both economic and political, to revise the goals and instruments of economic policy generally and of trade agreements and labour policy in particular.
Overall, analysis of project data, including but not limited to survey data, provides further evidence that the ‘Market Democratization’ approach to economic development and political transformations has failed. In theory, privatization of state assets and labour market deregulation was intended to generate both economic liberalization and efficiency gains, which in turn would produce respectively political liberalization and greater and fairer wealth distribution. Evidence shows this has not been the case, with privatization of state assets producing crony capitalism and extensive corruption and the deregulation of labour markets producing precisely low-paid/low-security precarious jobs – both of which were central to mobilising people against their regimes in 2010-2011 and which to date still erode regime legitimacy, however apparently stable governments might currently appear.

List of Websites:
Scientific Lead:
Dr Andrea Teti


Mailing Address:
Department of Politics and International Relations
University of Aberdeen
Dunbar Street AB24 3QY
Scotland (UK)


Related information


Kerry Kidd, (European Business Development Officer)
Tel.: +44 1224 272663
Fax: +44 1224 272319
Record Number: 197130 / Last updated on: 2017-04-10