Another season of elections is upon the Middle East. Egypt’s presidential election appeared anything but free, as President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi renewed his authoritarian mandate and squelched even the appearance of competition. In contrast, both Lebanon and Iraq are hosting freewheeling parliamentary campaigns, with elections coming in both countries in May.

How much do these electoral contests serve to bring more democracy? Status-quo players have learned how to navigate the electoral process without engaging in any significant reform or opening—whether outright authoritarians like Egypt’s Sisi, or more complex but profoundly undemocratic warlords and demagogues like many of the sectarian leaders in Iraq and Lebanon.

Our guests examine the connections between elections and democracy in this latest cycle of voting in the Middle East, in a global context where basic political propositions about the viability of electoral democracy are being called into question.

Participants include:

  • Sima Ghaddar, policy associate, The Century Foundation
  • Michael Wahid Hanna, senior fellow, The Century Foundation
  • Thanassis Cambanis, senior fellow, The Century Foundation