Inter-Elite Trust and the Fragility of Transitions: A Comparison between the Party Elites of Tunisia and Egypt

2014 - 2016
German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Prof. Dr. Mazen Hassan (project head), Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt



Research Questions
How has inter-elite trust between Islamist and secular party elites shaped the diverging transition paths in Egypt and Tunisia since 2011?

Contribution to International Research
Trust is one of the central concepts or social sciences and recently also political science. It has been used to explain numerous dependent variables of social, economic, and political nature. This project uses this concept to explain why transitions have taken different forms in the two Arab Spring countries: Egypt and Tunisia. While studies of the transitions literature have taken such an approach especially with regards to Latin American cases, it was never given parallel attention regarding Arab Spring countries.

Research Design and Methods
For the project semi-structured interviews with Tunisian and Egyptian party elites are conducted. Party leaders’ discourses in the press are analysed, and process-tracing is conducted.

Preliminary Results
Both the discourse analysis as well as the interviews have shown that inter-elite trust has been comparatively lower in Egypt than in Tunisia. Several structural-institutional factors have led to these diverging levels of trust that have affected the different transition paths of both countries.