Watching the uprisings unfold in the Middle East, as well as the opposition to them, leads me to appreciate the insights of social movement theory, which suggests that heterogeneous forces can unite in coalitions around super targets when political opportunities suddenly and serendipitously emerge. In this historic moment of change and resistance, will we see the unfolding institutional transformation of the state as it responds to a more participatory ethos, or will former regime stalwarts reconstitute themselves? Elected officials and new governance strategies will still confront serious distributional and economic challenges as states remain enmeshed in neoliberal policies. Political scientists are already studying constitutional change and debates about electoral design, party construction, and other institutional changes to democratize the polity, but we should also look to different transition models that seek to redress deep structural inequalities following decades of repression and rent seeking. Should principles of political or economic affirmative action be incorporated into new institutional designs of transitology?
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