Chapter 12: From Arab Spring to COVID-19 pandemic: a diptych of governance challenges in the MENA region
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This chapter delves into the complex challenges of governance in a region often characterized by political and social upheaval. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with its diverse geopolitical landscape, has faced a series of disruptions, most notably the Arab Spring and the COVID-19 pandemic. These crises have posed rigorous tests to governance capacity and legitimacy. The chapter argues that while the Arab Spring and the pandemic differ greatly in their nature and impact, both have served to highlight the vulnerabilities and inefficiencies in the governance systems of the MENA region. The Arab Spring, characterized by widespread protests and civil unrest, underscored the inefficacy of autocratic governance structures, thereby catalyzing demands for political reform. Conversely, the pandemic has put unprecedented strain on healthcare systems, destabilized economies, and exacerbated social inequalities, thereby adding layers of complexity to governance challenges. The relationship between governance capacity and state legitimacy is critically examined, and the chapter suggests that effective crisis management is not merely an administrative task but also a cornerstone for maintaining state legitimacy. Ineffectual management of crises can rapidly erode public trust and delegitimize state institutions, setting in motion a vicious cycle of instability and governance failure. The chapter concludes by underscoring the urgent need for robust governance frameworks that can adapt to changing dynamics and manage crises effectively to sustain state legitimacy.

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