The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continues to be one of the most autocratic parts of the world. While the Arab Spring raised hopes for a more just and democratic MENA, such aspirations were soon quashed by rising violence and sectarian conflict. What continues to be remarkable is the ability of the region’s rulers to hold onto power and to maintain legitimacy through various political means and constitutional arrangements. Elections are, for the most part, one of the most durable mechanisms employed by those in power, yet very little is known about the significance and consequences of these elections in these atypical settings. The Governance and Elections in the Middle East Project (GEMEP) aims to provide scholars and policymakers with an original database on electoral politics in the MENA to better understand the dynamics of elections and power relations across the region.
To achieve this goal, the GEMEP will focus on the elections and political behavior of legislators in the MENA. This extensive multi-national data collection and political analysis effort will result in a detailed legislative profile for each country in the region, as well as a comprehensive report on the political behavior of elected members of parliament. Translated into English for ease of use, this compiled dataset will provide to researchers regional political data that was previously unavailable or inaccessible. The project will focus on three key areas: election results, electoral indicators, and legislators' behavior.
Click here to learn more about the researchers involved in the project.
The project will provide a comprehensive list of candidates elected to the legislative bodies of Arab countries. Demographic information — including district size, the candidate's gender, quota mechanisms, placement mandates and party and religious affiliation — will be provided for each candidate. The project will initially feature election results in Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen.
In addition to providing basic demographic information, the project aims to investigate the policy preferences of members of parliament in each country of the MENA. The dataset will include the legislators’ committee memberships, their roll-call votes in parliament (if applicable), the bills they proposed, and the questions they raised during the legislative session.
Our project will explore and analyze legislative texts, such as bills, questions, laws, and even electoral manifestos. After the data is entered, we will investigate which agenda topics are the most salient in each country and why they have priority over other issues. In addition, we aim to investigate the extent to which legislative behavior represents public opinion. Finally, we will observe the similarities and differences between the roll call vote behavior of legislators in different MENA countries.
The indicators dataset provides several measures with which to compare the electoral systems and political climate of the region's countries. More specifically, the dataset contains information on the electoral rules for different levels of governance, district size in each election, and the nature of gender quotas instituted to promote women’s involvement in legislative bodies.
The Governance and Elections in the Middle East Project is currently under development.