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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Sharon Lean


Citizens around the world desire government to be responsive to their concerns. Regardless of the ruling regime type, elites attempt to incorporate citizens' preferences into public policies. Arab citizens are no different from other populations. This dissertation examines various determinants of public support for democracy in some Arab countries. This is both a compelling and critical topic for the following reasons. First, it helps to more deeply understand whether and how citizens' preferences in the Arab world relate to the incidence of democracy in the region. Second, it sheds light on the persistence of dictatorships across Arab countries since their independence after the Second World War. Third, it aids political scientists' theoretical knowledge of the link between citizens' preferences and the characteristics of their political systems. Finally, it provides civil society organizations and democracy advocates with a better understanding of citizens' political orientations and how they furnish the underpinnings of democracy, thus illuminating what might be needed to achieve the normative goal of greater citizen support for democracy in the Arab world.The research design for this dissertation is quantitative. It features the use of large-scale nationally representative surveys like the Arab Barometer, as well as expert surveys such as the democracy measurement projects of Freedom House and Democracy Index prepared by the EIU. I use a cross-sectional sample of twelve Arab countries with the latest available measurements on citizens’ perceptions of democracy, as well as observed levels of democracy in 2020. Many Arabs associate democracy with government performance. They understand democracy as a government that is responsive to their demands by delivering quality public goods and services, is accountable for its performance and succeeds in achieving economic growth. The democracy support means for the surveyed countries in the Arab Barometer have small although statistically significant correlations with the three measures of democracy. Moreover, this evidence provides empirical support that democracy support is at least a weak predictor of actual observed democracy in the Arab world.

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