The Arab Spring

The Arab Spring

An Essay on Revolution and Constitutionalism

Elgar Monographs in Constitutional and Administrative Law series

Antoni Abat i Ninet and Mark Tushnet

Approaching the concept of Islamic constitutionalism from a comparative perspective, this thought-provoking study by Antoni Abat i Ninet and Mark Tushnet uses traditional Western political theory as a lens to develop a framework for analyzing the events known as the ‘Arab Spring’. Writing with clarity and insight, the authors place Western and Arabic traditions into a constructive dialogue. They focus on whether we can develop a ‘theory of revolutions’ that helps us understand events occurring at divergent times at geographically separate locations.

Introduction

Antoni Abat i Ninet and Mark Tushnet

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, constitutional and administrative law, legal theory, politics and public policy, international politics

Extract

The events in the Middle East and North Africa in late 2010 and early 2011 have been given the label ‘the Arab Spring’, although by now it is widely acknowledged that the label misleadingly suggests a set of events that occurred in a compressed time period. The events appeared to need some sort of label because they seemed – at the time and for a while thereafter – to indicate that nations in the region (not all the nations, but many of them) were undergoing substantial transformations in their systems of government. They seemed to be moving from authoritarian systems toward more democratic and constitutionalist ones. The events seemed to resemble those that took place in other regions – in Latin America in the 1970s as authoritarian regimes were replaced by democratic ones, in central and eastern Europe after 1989 as the Soviet empire crumbled and new democratic regimes were installed.