Support for Democracy in Egypt: A Crucial Point for the Country: A Crucial Test Case For Comparative Politics

Image © Dr Elisabeth Kendall

The removal of President Morsi by the Egyptian Army following mass public protests against his rule raises profound questions about the democratic commitments of Egyptian citizens, the future of democracy in Egypt, and the future of 'electoral Islamism', both in Egypt and beyond. There is an urgent need to collect data on Egyptian public opinion at this crucial point in the country's political transition in order to address these questions.

Immediately following the parliamentary elections of 2011, a privately funded survey of citizens conducted by the project team produced three results of great relevance to the present political situation. First, Egyptian public opinion appeared overwhelmingly supportive of democracy as the best way of running the country. Second, differences between supporters of different parties were minimal. A third feature of public opinion at that time, however, illustrated clearly the nature of the country's current democratic cross-roads. Overall, we found very strong levels of support for a 'guardian army', including among a majority of Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Clearly - and this is the nub of the set of issues we will investigate - Egyptian public opinion and party representation cannot now hold on the lines of 2011. But, we ask, in what directions are they breaking? From one angle, this may be the moment at which many Egyptians give up a belief in the very democratic principles they called for during the 2011 revolution (that power is transferred through elections, that the military keeps out of politics, that respect for human rights is universal even for those whom some might see as Islamist extremists). From a different angle, the several millions who took to the streets to call for Morsi to resign seemed to be applying, in effect, support for democracy in a format not restricted by the formalities of calling for elections, running a campaign, casting votes and announcing results. The answers are crucial to the democratic future and governability of the country and for the future of 'electoral Islamism'.

Principal Investigator

Professor Stephen Whitefield


Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)


Urgent Research Grants

Project Start / End

Nov 2013 - Oct 2016

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