One shared value between Muslim-majority and Western countries is a desire for democracy

By Richard Wike, Associate Director, Pew Global Attitudes Project

Special to British Council

Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, analysts, policymakers, and pundits have debated whether democracy will actually take root in the Middle East. Even in nations such as Egypt and Tunisia where autocrats have been ousted, there is still considerable uncertainty and anxiety about what kinds of political systems will replace them. One thing, however, is clear: People in Arab nations want democracy, and they don’t just support a vague notion of democracy – they want to live in a country that has specific rights and institutions.

At the Pew Global Attitudes Project, our surveys have consistently found considerable support for democracy in Arab nations and our most recent poll again finds a strong desire for democracy in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Jordan. Big majorities in these countries say democracy is the best type of government. In Egypt for example, two-thirds believe democracy is preferable to any other kind of government, while just 19% say that in some circumstances a non-democratic form of government can be preferable, and only 13% say it doesn’t really matter what kind of government runs the country.