Egypt’s 2011-2012 parliamentary elections: Voting for religious vs. secular democracy?

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Series Details Volume 23, Number 4, Pages 453-478
Publication Date December 2018
ISSN 1362-9395 (print) | 1743-9418 (online)
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This study investigates whether individuals’ attitudes towards democracy and secular politics have any influence on voting behaviour in Egypt. Based on data from survey conducted immediately after the Egyptian parliamentary elections in January 2012, this study finds that Egyptians’ attitudes towards democratic governance were quite negative around the parliamentary elections, yet Egyptians still endorsed democracy as the ideal political system for their country. However, empirical findings suggest that support for democracy has a limited impact on electoral results.

On the other hand, the main division in Egyptian society around the first free and fair parliamentary elections was the religious-secular cleavage. As people support secular politics more, they become significantly less likely to vote for Islamist parties. These results illustrate that preferences in regard to the type of the democracy – either a liberal and secular or a religious democracy – were the main determinant of the historic 2012 elections in Egypt.

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