Taking Stock of the "Arab Spring"
New publication of the Bertelsmann Stiftung on political change in the Middle East and North Africa and its consequences for the European Neighbourhood Policy
Just over a year ago, a wave of political upheaval began in Europe's southern neighborhood that shook the power structures throughout the region. In those authoritarian countries, in which until then, any form of opposition opinion or protest had been strictly prohibited, masses of people took to the streets and demanded greater political and economic participation, better governance and the civil rights denied them for decades. The current volume "The Arab Spring: One Year After" of the publication series "Europe in Dialogue" is offering an interim appraisal: from a stock-taking of last year's political developments and an analysis of the current transformation dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa, to the prospects for stronger and overall better Arab-European cooperation. In collaboration with international and local experts we hope to contribute to clarifying and adding nuance to the idea of the "Arab Spring," a term both diffuse and often all too euphemistically used.
Our analysis of the political developments during the past year corresponds directly with the country reports of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Transformation Index (BTI), which were drafted in early 2011 and portray the eve of the "Arab Spring" by vividly illustrating social stagnation and despair. The BTI 2012 highlights the whole spectrum of stalled reforms and policy failures, corruption and repression, impoverishment and lack of opportunity that ultimately led to the outbreak of political protest and to the resignation of dictators that had held seemingly impregnable positions.