A lot is being made of the potential for cascading regional regime change in the wake of the uprising in Tunisia. But, my gut feeling is that the success of the uprising is more reflective of Tunisian demographics than a fundamental shift of power to the streets in the region. I took a look at some numbers last night to get a better feel.
It’s purely speculative to draw conclusions from just these numbers, however a few things jump out at me – Per Capita GDP, the percentage of GDP allocated to education, and Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (TI CPI). What I want to read into it is that Tunisia’s ground swell was made up of a more ‘monolithic’, cohesive demographic overthrowing a thinly layered dictatorial apparatus – like I said it’s a gut feeling. Of particular note is the TI CPI rank for Algeria and Egypt with the suggestion that more agents of self interest may mean the ‘layer’ is thicker and more entrenched. Add to the equation both countries higher military spending and the $1.3B in US military aid to Egypt.
Certainly the regimes of Mubarak and Bouteflika need and will be challenged, but I doubt we will see anything as ‘clean’ as Ben Ali’s swift overthrow any time soon.
Source: CIA World Factbook 2010, Transparency International 2010 CPI