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IMPACT - Harvard Kennedy School - Harvard University

IMPACT - Harvard Kennedy School - Harvard University

2 2013 summer autumn

2 2013 summer autumn winter spring volume 5 t issue 3 Research BRIEFS “During the past few years, I have noticed that my students are less and less inclined to want to work for any big organization at all, government or not,” writes Steve Kelman. “Courses on ‘social enterprises’ are flourishing, and more students are entering the Harvard Business School startup contests. Some of the startups students have in mind are businesses that would be supported by revenues, while others might be startups trying to deal with some social problem. The nice way to look at this — and I typically try to see the nice side of things, especially where our students are concerned — is that this is just a new way for students to show their social engagement. Having said that, though, there’s no denying that this trend is yet another roadblock government faces in trying to attract smart young people.” Steve Kelman What Happens When the Kids Go For Startups FCW: The Business of Federal Technology “Iraq remains an inherently difficult place. For a multitude of reasons, any effort to remove the Ba’athi regime and establish legitimate institutions in its wake was bound to be complicated and require years to complete,” writes Meghan O’Sullivan. “Knowing that the past decade of U.S. involvement in Iraq could have been easier, even if it would still have been difficult, provides no solace to those who lost family members in Iraq or to Iraqis who endured years of anguish. Nor is it likely to make the United States more eager to embark on such endeavors in the future (nor should it). But it does suggest the importance of learning the right lessons from Iraq, of digging deeper to ensure that false wisdom is not enshrined as sacred truth. As much as we would all like this exercise to be merely an academic one, events in the Middle East today suggest that it could be vital — if not to the United States, then perhaps to those it wishes to help.” Meghan O’Sullivan The Iraq War at Ten The American Interest “Although the United States has long prided itself on being a paragon of democracy, we did not possess anything even approximating universal adult suffrage until the late 1960s — even though universal suffrage is commonly regarded as an essential ingredient of democracy,” writes Alexander Keyssar. “Moreover, our history has not been one of steady and inexorable progress toward a more inclusive polity. In the very long run, to be sure, we have become more democratic, but there have been numerous moments in our past when the pendulum swung in the opposite direction: men and women who were enfranchised found themselves losing that right. . . . In addition to this mottled pattern of enfranchisement and disfranchisement, our nation has also witnessed periodic episodes of ‘voter suppression’— a label frequently invoked by critics to characterize the current wave of photo id requirements.” Alexander Keyssar Voter Suppression Returns — Voting Rights and Partisan Practices Harvard Magazine “It is completely fair to ask: What were they thinking?” Juliette Kayyem writes of the accused Boston Marathon bombers. “They weren’t. And their very haplessness can be seen as vindicating some aspects of America’s counterterrorism strategy: For the past decade, U.S. efforts have focused on eliminating the biggest threats — the global masterminds, who aim for mass destruction. What’s been left behind are potential attackers like the Tsarnaevs, with their unscripted zeal. Careless, spontaneous, immature, they are attackers who are most difficult to identify, precisely because of their lack of sophistication. Guarding against them is, paradoxically, even harder than targeting international threats. . . . No society as open as ours can promise perfect security. Thus, it makes sense that a strategy that resigns itself to some form of terrorism in our modern age would, naturally, concentrate on making sure that those who do harm us are stupid, disorganized, rushed, and fickle.” Juliette Kayyem Killing Without a Script The Boston Globe IMPACT | Research from Harvard Kennedy School www.hks.harvard.edu

POLITICAL SCIENCE The Leftist Paradox in Egyptian Politics 2013 autumn winter spring summer volume 5 t issue 3 3 Tarek Masoud — a political scientist, Middle East specialist, and Kennedy School Associate Professor — is puzzled by a phenomenon he’s observed in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world. According to surveys that he’s conducted, the vast majority of voters purport to have left-leaning economic views, favoring the redistribution of wealth from rich to poor. They also believe that government should bear responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. Yet these same people tend to vote for Islamist politicians — whose support for their economic positions is dubious — over leftist candidates who are steadfast champions of their avowed agenda. “What is going on here?” asks Masoud, who explores that question in his paper “Arabs Want Redistribution, So Why Don’t They Vote Left? Theory and Evidence from Egypt.” The voting is often (and incorrectly) attributed to religious convictions, he says. About 90 percent of all Egyptians are Muslim, the argument goes, and people vote for Islamist candidates because they are conditioned by their religion to do so. But this line of reasoning may not get to the heart of the matter, Masoud claims: “Voters think that Islamists are supporting the policies they favor simply because they come into greater contact with Islamists.” If so, how do Islamist parties manage to reach more voters than their secular opponents do? The answer lies in a social landscape “rich in religious networks and poor in networks of social action based on class or occupation.” Consequently, Masoud says, “Islamists possess multiple opportunities to communicate with voters and convince them of the fealty to their interests, whereas leftists — who may actually be truer to those interests — simply lack equivalent opportunities.” A dominant feature of this landscape is mosques, of which Egypt has more than 90,000. Islamist candidates normally spend lots of time in mosques, where they have occasion to speak up during services or interact with the public in other ways. “If a secular candidate that nobody knew tried to speak in a mosque, most people would view him skeptically, wondering what he was doing there,” Masoud observes. “They lack the ability to access voters through these widespread institutions.” In addition to the mosques themselves, there is a large network of Islamic charitable organizations —“Muslim versions of the Salvation Army,” according to Masoud — that constitute “the plurality of private voluntary associations in Egypt.” Islamist political activists often join these organizations, thereby gaining the trust of people who’ve come to rely on the services provided. No comparable outlets exist for leftist candidates. Although labor unions might appear to be a logical base of support for progressive parties, the country’s only legal union is controlled by the government, Masoud notes, “and it has generally worked to mute, not encourage, collective action.” Masoud still holds out some hope for progressive forces in Egypt. The 2011 revolution against President Hosni Mubarak was fueled by economic problems, such as high unemployment and welfare cutbacks. If these problems persist, Masoud says, “it is likely that the benefit of doubt accorded to the Muslim Brotherhood (and its standardbearer, President Mohamed Morsi) will wear thin.” The voting is often (and incorrectly) attributed to religious convictions. Leftists’ best hopes may lie in future presidential elections. In 2012, Hamdin Sabãhi — a journalist committed to workers and the poor and representing the Arab nationalist Karãma party — placed a surprising third, coming within four percentage points of Morsi. At the national level, the organizational advantages held by Islamists can be diminished by televisions “beaming each candidate into living rooms and coffee shops throughout the country,” Masoud says. “As a result, voters are able to learn as much about the leader of a small party as they know about the leader of an 85-year-old Islamic movement.” If a minority candidate succeeds in becoming president, more resources will flow to his or her party. In this way, Masoud adds, “Those effects can percolate down, which is how new parties are built.” He’s anxious to learn how these findings about the prospects for progressive politics in Egypt apply to the rest of the developing world. But that’s a subject for future research. s SN Tarek Masoud Faculty Researcher Tarek Masoud, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School Paper Title Arabs Want Redistribution, So Why Don’t They Vote Left? Theory and Evidence from Egypt www.hks.harvard.edu IMPACT | Research from Harvard Kennedy School

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