Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Social Sciences - Berlin Graduate School of Social Science

Dario Portong

Dario Portong

BGSS Generation 2021



Democratization and Islamic Fundamentalism in the Islamic World



Prof. Ruud Koopmans



The dissertation project investigates to what extent ordinary Muslims support liberal democracy, whether different religious orientations help to explain shortcomings, and whether mass orientations help to explain the erosion of democratic principles through the election of Islamist parties. This sheds light on the overarching issue of why democratization has failed in the Islamic world. Despite this systematic failure, scholars often adhere to the claim that liberal democracy arises independently of cultural background. First, I use cross-sectional World Values Survey (WVS) data, namely the recent wave seven, to investigate the underlying premise that most ordinary people in the Islamic world believe in the legitimacy of liberal democracy. Second, I use regression analyses to investigate whether different religious orientations—namely Islamic denomination, religiosity, orthodoxy, fundamentalism, and extremism—can explain support for liberal democracy. I also run an equivalent analysis based on survey data collected in Senegal and The Gambia. Third, I use additional regression analyses based on the WVS data to assess the influence of religious orientations and attitudes towards liberal democracy on the support for Islamist parties. Fourth, I analyze whether Islamist parties undermine democratization in electoral regimes. As a qualitative analysis, a small N-comparison based on a most-different systems design (MDSD) complements the quantitative part to study the role of Islamist parties. I analyze Turkey, Tunisia, and—if time and budget constraints allow—Pakistan. My dissertation covers three cornerstones of liberal democracy—gender equality, freedom of expression, and freedom of worship.