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After Repression: How Polarization Derails Democratic Transition, Elizabeth R. Nugent

Reviewed by Gary A. Stradiotto

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Unlike previous waves of democratization, the majority of countries that attempted to liberalize during the Arab Spring fell short in their quest for democratic change. Two countries that initially started on a similar path to liberalization, Egypt and Tunisia, quickly diverged after their first democratic elections. While Egypt showed promising signs early on with the mostly free and fair election of Mohamed Morsi in June 2012, his presidency was short-lived. A little over a year after taking office, Morsi was removed in a coup d'état as the military asserted its control over the country. Similar to Egypt, Tunisia emerged from the protests of the Arab Spring by holding a free and fair election for the Constituent Assembly in 2011. But since then, as Egypt failed at keeping democratic momentum, Tunisia steadfastly continued to liberalize and is working toward institutionalizing its democracy. Why the divergent outcomes of these democratic transitions in the Arab Spring?

In After Repression, Elizabeth R. Nugent seeks to answer this important question by analyzing the long-lasting psychological and identity effects of repressive authoritarian regimes through a comparative analysis of Egypt and Tunisia. Nugent argues convincingly that patterns of repression that occur under dictatorial regimes matter because they either limit the ability o

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