Research Abstracts

Photo taken in Makhtar, Tunisia. August 2019


Bureaucrat-Local Politician Linkages and Hierarchical Local Governance in Emerging Democracies: A Case Study of Tunisia (GLD Working Paper Series)

Despite implementing comprehensive decentralization laws, emerging democracies often achieve limited success in improving the inclusiveness of local governance. A potential factor limiting the inclusiveness is the lack of cooperation. What factors determine the inclination of mayors to cooperate, and what are their implications for transparency? I answer these questions through conducting a case study of Tunisia, where mass resignations paralyze the local governance following the implementation of the Code of Local Collectives in 2018. I evaluate the mechanisms that produce divergent inclinations to cooperate based on a set of interview data recently collected among 39 municipalities in socio-economically divergent regions with mayors, city council members, civil society members, and a governor. I examine their implications for transparency based on a Transparency Index developed by an independent organization for all 350 municipalities. The findings from interviews suggest that partisanship ties constitute the most substantive factor perpetuating hierarchical relations among the elected officials and the appointed bureaucrats, as they can enable mayors to focus on large scale projects at the expense of cooperative modes of governance. A mixed effect analysis on the Transparency Index of municipalities within governorates with identified partisanship ties (n=174) indicates that the transparency score is lower in instances where the mayors and the governors belong to the same ideological family.

Attitudes on Family Law as an Electoral Cleavage: Survey Evidence from Tunisia (Forthcoming, Middle East Law and Governance)

Most societies in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) are subject to strict family laws. Do these laws affect voters’ decisions? In this article, I argue that mass attitudes on family law constitute an issue-based social cleavage in Tunisia and examine the influence of family law on whether individuals vote for Ennahda, the largest conservative party, or Nidaa Tounes, the authoritarian successor party. Findings from a Multinomial Logistic Regression on Afrobarometer data indicate that individuals who hold more egalitarian views on women’s inheritance rights are less likely to vote for Ennahda and more likely to vote for Nidaa Tounes, whereas there is no statistically significant relationship between opinions on women’s divorce rights and the vote. These study findings suggest that the attitudes on provisions of family law are an alternative source of social cleavage in emerging democracies, which can have applications in other country settings in MENA

Laws promoting gender equality often fail to improve women’s experiences. This failure is particularly acute for the experiences of socio-economically marginalized women. Understanding why legislated equality as prescribed in laws often does not lead to the equality of outcomes is an ongoing puzzle in the studies of gender and politics. Utilizing an intersectional approach, this paper argues that education can serve as a constitutive element for marginalized women to enable legislated equality as prescribed in laws to lead to real equality, the equality of outcomes. This article empirically investigates the influence of education by utilizing a unique dataset compiled by an internationally recognized NGO, Kamer, on a representative data of the marginalized women in the eastern city of Diyarbakır in Turkey. The study indicates that a higher level of education is significantly and positively associated with the likelihood of claiming to obtain equal inheritance. Therefore, mere legislation of gender-progressive laws is not sufficient to improve the experiences of women, and achieving gender equality may require improving the educational status of women. The current study also outlines the gains from intersectional research in studying marginalized women’s experiences and advocates for the employment of an intersectional approach in more empirical studies.


The Educational Opportunities and Challenges of Syrian Refugee Students in Turkey: Temporary Education Centers and Beyond

This policy paper assesses the educational opportunities and challenges of Syrian refugees in Turkey and evaluates the role of Temporary Education Centers (TEC) in integrating Syrian students into the Turkish educational system. It is expected that about 65% of Syrians will remain in Turkey even after the war concludes, approximately 572,000 of which are children. The integration of such a large number of students will be a critical component for Turkey’s development trajectory. For this study, we have interviewed the leaders of 12 TECs located in four socio-economically diverse districts in Istanbul as well as bureaucrats and one NGO leader. We have observed the opportunities of students to access education as well as the quality of the educational software and hardware as defined in the literature. In light of our findings, we have provided assessments with recommendations. The goals of this study have been to help policy makers evaluate the current effects of refugee education policies on the integration process, to design the most effective policy interventions, and to serve as a guide to local administrators and NGOs in understanding and responding to the needs of Syrian refugee students. In addition, we hope that our study serves as a guide to leaders, local
administrators, and NGOs in all countries around the world for developing mechanisms that can provide accessible and high quality education for refugees.