The political participation of the diaspora of the Middle East and North Africa before and after the Arab uprisings
Di Lenna, Maria Teresia
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The role of the Arab diasporas in the political processes of their home countries has changed significantly since the 2011 uprisings. The article aims to analyse these changes and assess the impact that diasporas have had on the democratisation processes of the post-2011 transitions. It does so by looking at examples of both direct and indirect diasporas’ participation in the politics of their home countries during and after the uprisings through mechanisms such as lobbying, campaigning, national dialogue initiatives, and voting in the parliamentary elections. The background to the social, economic and political contributions of the Arab diasporas before 2011 highlights the multiple identities of the diaspora communities abroad as well as the changes to their inclusion from disputed members of the regimes’ opposition to a more active civil society. With the shifting social and political environment of the last decade, the examples demonstrate the important political role that diasporas could play in cooperation and bridge building, both locally and internationally. However, they also demonstrate the obstacles and severe limitations they face in their inclusion in the governments’ transition to democratic governance. Transnational repression and a negative reception context are limiting factors affecting the ability of diasporas to fully participate as active citizens in both their host and home countries. As an important index for democratisation in the region, the conclusions drawn in the article could offer new perspectives on shaping and constructing regional politics and local regimes. These constitute pressing issues for the future and the evolution of democracy in the region, especially within the post-war reconstruction of countries such as Syria, Libya and Yemen, and the democratic transitions in Tunisia and Egypt.