Did Egypt's Post-Uprising Crime Wave Increase Support for Authoritarian Rule? (With Lisa Blaydes, Caroline Abadeer, and Alexandra Blackman).
Countries transitioning from autocracy to democracy often struggle to maintain law and order. Yet relatively little is known about how changes in levels of crime impact public support for authoritarian rule. We find an empirical relationship between increasing crime and support for authoritarian leadership in Egypt following the 2011 Uprisings. Analysis of original crime data from Egypt suggests that electoral districts exposed to larger year-on-year changes in localized patterns of crime were more likely to vote for the “strongman” candidate in Egypt’s first, and only, free and fair presidential election in 2012. We validate these findings with survey evidence which shows that Egyptians who were highly concerned about crime were more likely to express support for a strong leader over democracy as well as for military rule, even after controlling for a broad set of covariates. This research illustrates how founding elections that occur during a period of rising personal insecurity risk becoming referenda on order and stability, with negative implications for the consolidation of democratic institutions.