Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Kevin Deegan-Krause


This dissertation explores the structure of political attitudes on the political parties’, as well as mass public levels in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. I present the dimensionality, nature and structuration of political ideologies in these countries. In doing so, I describe the determinants, constituents, and components constructing parties’ and citizens’ political maps that are constantly competing for electoral, as well as actual, relevance within all societal domains. This work provides the first systematic empirical analysis of party systems in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. It explores three basic characteristics of the party system in each case: the number of relevant parties, level of ideological polarization and the degree of parties’ institutionalization.

The dissertation begins with analyzing political parties’ policy positions obtained from a content analysis of their manifestos. The content analysis measure parties’ political preferences on thirty political issues distributed on seven policy domains: foreign relations, democracy, economy, religion, culture, welfare and social groups while party politics literature in the Arab World is increasingly attempting to identify the most relevant political conflicts in the region, the empirical investigation of parties’ policy preferences in the region is non-existent. I provide evidence that political parties’ attitudes structure, political ideology, is organized on two dimensions: an economic, as well as a cultural one. The extent to which the economy should be regulated and whether Islam should play an active role in organizing politics and society constitute the main conflicts constructing the attitudes structure of Arab political parties in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.

Next, I analyze the attitudes structures of mass publics in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco to compare these to their political parties’ counterparts. Using the Sixth Wave of the World Values Survey, 2010-2014, the dissertation concludes that mass publics’ attitudes structures in these four Arab nations are differ from their parties’ equivalents’. Ordinary citizens in the Arab World seem to structure their attitudes according to four dimensions: Welfare, Religion, Economy and Culture. Despite the extensive literature arguing that political elites and actors, mainly political parties, influence the structure of attitudes on the mass level, this dissertation presents evidence that contradicts such an assessment. This result indicates that elite political preferences may prove irrelevant in shaping mass publics political ideologies in certain contexts such as the Arab World. It also corroborates the assumption suggesting that political parties compete on a different ideological space than citizens. The attitudes structure on the mass level is shown to be more complex than that on the parties’ level.

Finally, I present an in-depth analysis of Algerian, Egyptian, and Jordanian and Moroccan party systems. The evidence indicates that party systems’ number of relevant actors, level of ideological polarization and the degree of institutionalization differ across countries. Morocco reflects the most stable system with few stable parties, medium level of ideological polarization and parties’ with strong organizations and deep roots in society. On the other hand, Jordan exhibits the weakest party system with a single relevant mass party, absent ideological polarization and weak parties. Algeria and Egypt withered similar political histories producing party systems with a strong state backed party and few strong opposition actors, high ideological polarization between Islamists and liberals and few highly institutionalized parties.