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Polls from the Middle East/North Africa show high support for democracy. However, the veracity of this support has been called into question. This study uses a conjoint analysis to show that citizens support democratic institutions, as well as favoring an effective welfare state and a state religion. The results demonstrate that support for elected governance is not contingent on the state's providing economic benefits; citizens are more likely to favor participatory government at each level of economic outcome. Interest in incorporating religion in the state, however, is contingent on the political and economic profile described; the contingent effects suggest interest in Islamic governance is, at least partly, instrumental. Although pro-democracy public opinion alone does not secure democratization, it creates fertile ground for future democratization movements.


This article was originally published in Political Science Research and Methods in 2023 following peer review.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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