Public Lecture: Why is There No Democracy in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) Region by Bo Rothstein

CEU Community + Invited Guests
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 1:30pm
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Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 1:30pm to 3:10pm

The Department of Political Science cordially invite you to the public lecture

Why is There No Democracy in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) Region

presented by

Bo Rothstein
August Röhss Chair in Political Science at University of Gothenburg 

Date: 16th October, 2014 – 13.30

Venue: CEU Nador u. 9, Monument Building Gellner Room

ABSTRACT | The absence of democracy in the Arab–Muslim world is a ‘striking anomaly’ for democratization scholars. This cannot be seen as caused by religion as such, as there are now several democratic Muslim-majority states. Popular explanations such as values, culture, economic development, natural resources, or colonial legacy have been refuted. Based on Ostrom’s approach regarding local groups’ ability to establish institutions for ‘governing the commons’, we present a novel explanation for this puzzle, based on historical variations in institutions for financing religion. In Northwestern Europe, religion and secular services managed by local religious institutions have been financed ‘from below’, creating local systems for semi-democratic representation, transparency, and accountability. In the Arab–Muslim region, religion and local secular services have been financed ‘from above’, by private foundations lacking systems for representation and accountability. It is thus not religion, but how religion has been financed, that explains lacking successful democratization in the Arab–Muslim world.

BIO | Bo Rothstein holds the August Röhss Chair in Political Science at the University of Gothenburg. He took is Ph.D. in Political Science at Lund University in 1986. Rothstein is currently head of the Quality of Government Institute at the Department of Political Science, the University of Gothenburg. Among his main publications in English are Just Institutions Matter: The Moral and Political Logic of the Universal Welfare and Social Traps and the Problem of Trust, both with Cambridge University Press. The Quality of Government: The Political Logic of Corruption, Inequality and Social Trust was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2011 and Good Government: The Relevance of Political Science (ed. together with Sören Holmberg) was published by Edward Elgar Press in 2013.