Soldiers of Democracy: Military Legacies and Democratic Transitions in Egypt and Tunisia


Book Manuscript

After the Arab Spring, why did Egypt’s democratic transition fall to a military coup, while Tunisia’s did not? More generally, what motivates some militaries to overthrow nascent democracies? This book argues that the military's decision is shaped by how it had been treated under autocracy. Militaries are more likely to thwart democratization when they had historically been coopted by their autocrats through a share of power or shared identity, and lose their privileged positions under democracy. By contrast, militaries should be more supportive of democratization when they had historically been marginalized, fragmented, and counterbalanced by their autocrats, and thereby gain from democracy. These military legacies from autocracy thus shape the likelihood of future democratic consolidation. This book illustrates the theory through case studies of Egypt and Tunisia, drawing upon over 100 interviews and three surveys of military personnel. It then probes the generalizability of the theory through a cross-national analysis of all democratic transitions between 1783-2016.

This project has received support from the Project on Middle East Political Science, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. Please find an introductory chapter here.




Interview with President Moncef Marzouki


Retired Officers Association


Interview with Rached Ghannouchi