Tunisian Democracy and Egyptian Authoritarianism: What Explains the Difference?

April 2018

This article discusses two divergent cases within the Arab Spring: Tunisia and Egypt. In doing so, there is analysis of both states’ paths toward democratization, where they faltered or succeeded, and why. Specifically, this paper synthesizes two ostensibly competing theories to strengthen an understanding of Tunisian and Egyptian politics. Tunisia and Egypt are similar cases. Their central difference revolves around the role and capabilities of security services. In Tunisia, where democracy was more successful, security services were less robust. In Egypt, conversely, security services were powerful enough to reverse democratic outcomes. This article concludes that security institutions interact with anti-state organizations, ultimately inhibiting or enabling democratic outcomes.