Maleke Fourati, Gabriele Gratton, Pauline Grosjean, 14 July 2016

It is typically argued that the rising popularity of Islamist parties in parts of the Arab world reflects votes from the poor and disenfranchised. This column challenges this perspective, arguing that Islamist parties gain political support from the middle classes, due in large part to neoliberal economic policies. Using survey and electoral data from Tunisia, it shows that belonging to the middle class and living in a rich district together affect the decision to vote for the religious party more than actually being religious. These findings suggest that the same framework used to analyse political competition in the West can be fruitfully applied to the Muslim world. 

Vincenzo Galasso, Tommaso Nannicini, 22 September 2009

Political competition may produce better governance. This column shows that Italian politicians shirk less when they are from a more closely contested district. But it’s not simply a re-election incentive – parties are more likely to choose qualified candidates rather than loyalists to run in contestable district, therefore putting better politicians in office.

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