Guns or Roses: A Comparative Case Study on the Influence of the Military and the Labor Unions on Regime-Change
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The recent Arab Spring uprisings lent hope to much of the world that the region was finally transitioning away from authoritarian rule. Yet, the vastly differing outcomes have instead raised new questions. Particularly Egypt and Tunisia, which experienced such similar trajectories of social and political revolution, raise the question of why Egypt would return to authoritarian rule, while Tunisia is on the path towards a transitional democracy? In this dissertation, I explore the conditions of internally driven regime-change to explain the variation in political outcomes of the Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. I argue that authoritarian regimes with a politicized military and a fragmented labor movement are more likely to experience a return to authoritarianism. Reversely, authoritarian regimes with a politicized labor movement and a fragmented or apolitical military yields a higher likelihood of a pacted transition towards democracy. The framework presented here unpacks the impact of politicization of the military and labor on regime-change by exploring how their ability to politically mobilize influenced outcomes of the political transitions in Tunisia and Egypt. To do so this paper explores the relationship between the military’s and labor in politics and how this relationship affects outcomes of political transitions and revolutions.