On August 14, 2013, Egyptian security forces massacred more than 900 demonstrators at Cairo’s Raba’a and Nahda squares. This dark day of state violence, for which no Egyptian official has ever been held accountable, marked a key juncture in Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s reestablishment of authoritarian rule after the July 3, 2013 military coup.

Eight years later, scholars continue to debate the failure of Egypt’s short-lived experiment in democracy, including central questions such as:

  • What led Egyptians to pour into the streets in January 2011 against then-President Hosni Mubarak?
  • Why did the Tahrir protests succeed but the attempt to create a post-Mubarak democracy fail?
  • How did al-Sisi consolidate a new regime even more repressive than Mubarak’s?

In a new POMED report, Scott Williamson examines how a growing body of political science scholarship has tried to answer these questions, with a focus on the understudied role of popular politics. His literature review concludes with a consideration of what might trigger a new uprising in Egypt and how a second transition might play out.

Read the report, “Popular Politics in Egypt: From the 2011 Revolution to al-Sisi’s Authoritarian Revival What Do Political Scientists Say?


Watch our Q&A with the author here:

Scott Williamson is an incoming assistant professor in the Department of Social and Political Sciences at Bocconi University and a former postdoctoral associate at New York University Abu Dhabi. He received his PhD in Political Science from Stanford University in 2020, with a dissertation about how authoritarian rulers avoid blame. Find him on Twitter @scottrw630.

Photo Credit: Collage of photos from Lilian Wagdy and the AbdelFattah Elsisi Official Facebook page