Opposition, Rhetoric, and Democratic-Styled Institutions in the Middle East and North Africa

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

This project analyzes the floor records of democratic-styled legislatures in the Middle East and North Africa ('MENA region') to answer fundamental questions about the nature of democracy and political opposition in the MENA region and beyond. Parliaments are a surprisingly important focus of politics in the MENA region. Despite the obvious importance of the region, virtually no quantitative study, of any kind, of any sort of parliamentary behavior has been conducted in most MENA states.

The investigators apply techniques for the analysis of political speech developed under the NSF-funded Dynamics of Political Rhetoric and Political Representation ('DynRR') project. Regimes with widely varying claims to democracy use parliaments and similar institutions to mediate and control political conflict and opposition. Typically, detailed records of the speeches and debates that occur in these institutions are maintained, and increasingly these are provided in electronic form online. Examples range from the British House of Commons to the Tunisian Majlis al-Nuwaab. The DynRR project has collected such records for many western democracies and developed computational and statistical models of language patterns in such data, useful for determining the range, content, and relationships of political topics discussed in any legislature, the attention paid to different topics, and the landscape of political conflict.

The project will look specifically at the parliaments of Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Iraq, the Palestinian Legislative Council, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Djibouti, Algeria, Tunisia, and Iran. The data from these legislatures will be analyzed with the DynRR models in an effort to understand the nature of political opposition, particular that of democratic and Islamic oppositions, across the MENA region. The data will be made publicly available, creating one of the first systematic large-scale data sets available for broad use in comparing the politics of MENA states with each other and with states outside the region.

StatusFinished
Effective start/end date10/1/091/31/15

Funding

  • National Science Foundation: $404,916.00

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