Arab Spring 2.0 – Lessons Learned?

By Lukas Bernhard April 14, 2020 Weekly Graphs

This year marks the tenth anniversary of “Arab Spring” uprisings. But there is little to celebrate: out of the six countries that experienced mass protests in 2010-2011, only Tunisia successfully transitioned to a democracy. On the other hand, recent protests in Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and, to a lesser extent, Egypt show us an ongoing vibrant demand for democracy. These developments are reflected in the new, V-Dem dataset (v10). 

For this purpose, we explore one of our new(!) indicators - Mobilization for democracy – in cases – Sudan and Algeria. Mobilization for democracy is measured on a scale from 0 to 4. Higher values indicate that more and bigger pro-democratic events have occurred. 

Mobilization for democracy (graph).png

As the graph shows, mobilization for democracy in those countries has been a persistent part of politics, with many large- and small-scale pro-democratic events in 2019 in particular. Sudan saw an extreme rise in mobilization for democracy compared to the prior years, where many, but only small events took place. Algeria shows a similar level of pro-democratic mass mobilization in 2019. Indeed, mass mobilization in Algeria shows little change since the Arab Spring, remaining a high level with recent events giving it an added boost. 

This poses the question: Will new mass uprisings lead to democratic transition this time? In his recently published article, Michele Dunne (2020) argues, that activists in Algeria and Sudan draw lessons from both their own past and neighboring countries and therefore might be able to “improve their odds” (p. 184). This provides us with some cautious hope.

For more information on the mobilization for democracy measure and other new indicators, see the reference materials for Version 10 of the V-Dem dataset. To learn more about the recent events in Algeria and Sudan, see our recently published V-Dem Democracy Report 2020, where we highlight both cases (p. 22).

To learn more about V-Dem indicators and our online analysis tools, visit

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