Illiberal Democracy and the Middle East (Worksheet)

Tahrir Square Protests, 2011. CREDIT: Mona Sosh

On April 8, 2014, Shadi Hamid led a conversation at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs concerning "illiberal democracies" in a post-Arab Spring world. In the attachment, key excerpts and discussion questions have been adapted from the transcript so that students can better understand the concept of "illiberal democracy" and how representative government systems often work in more conservative societies.

ILLIBERAL DEMOCRACY is a government system that supports the fair election of representative leaders but also is willing to contradict democratic principles (by suspending civil liberties, for example) if that is what is in the ideological interest of the majority of voters.

For a full transcript, audio, and video, please click here. For Hamid’s book, Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East, please click here.

This activity works well in a comparative government class.