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Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics; Director of Education IAIS, University of Exeter

Democracy and democratization. Parties, party systems, and party system institutionalization. These are the topics at the core of my research agenda. While I occasionally work on cases outside of the Arab World, this is where my heart lies. In fact, it belongs to North Africa, and the Maghreb in particular. Over the past few years, I have published, lectured and debated widely on issues relating to the state of democracy and the likelihood of democratic, political change in North Africa. Most notably, I have recently published Party Politics and the Prospects for Democracy in North Africa (Lynne Rienner, 2013) and ‘The Fragile Tunisian Democracy’ in Gana (ed.) The Making of the Tunisian Revolution (Edinburgh University Press, 2013).

With the eruption of the Arab Spring, there has been an immense surge in demand for research and publications on the state of the democratization process in the Middle East and North Africa. In short, does the Middle East and North Africa appear to be changing politically? And in which direction(s)? Given my field of interest, and the reality that I have explored issues relating to parties and party systems in North Africa in greater detail since the beginning of my career, my research agenda over the coming years will take a slight change of course with a view to generate new knowledge and bring in a breath of fresh air. While I will maintain my emphasis on political parties and the role played by these in the democratization process, the perspective will be Western in the coming years. What I am particularly interested in exploring is how the Arab Spring has impacted upon party aid given by the various European and US party foundations to political parties across the Arab World. Has the Arab Spring led to a change in objectives, in how recipients are selected, and in the budgets committed to this type of democracy assistance? These are some of the topics that I will be exploring in the years to come.

My research agenda has always, as already mentioned, centred on the subject of democracy. Although the focus has often been on North African politics (see, for example,Democratization in Morocco), this has not always been the case. I have also published on party assistance (‘Problems of Party Assistance in Hybrid Regimes’ with Nicole Bolleyer), on radicalization (‘The Persistence of Authoritarianism as a Source of Radicalization in North Africa’ and ‘The Dilemma of the Islamists’), and definitions of democracy (‘An Elemental Definition of Democracy and its Advantages for Comparing Political Regime Types’). I am not, in other words, a clear-cut area studies person. All my research is highly theory-driven, and my main interest is democratization theory. However, there is no denying that my passion for the politics of the Middle East and North Africa is almost equal.



  • –present
    Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics; Director of Education IAIS, University of Exeter


  • 2006 
    University of Exeter, PhD in Middle East Politics