Dr. Jean-Francois Seznec Weighs Democracy on the Doha Debates

In November 2010, CCAS Visiting Associate Professor Dr. Jean-François Seznec appeared on the BBC World News program The Doha Debates, where he argued against hasty democracy in the Gulf states. “Democracy cannot be imposed from outside,” he said. “It must naturally come from within or it creates havoc…Democracy in the Gulf today would guarantee instability and poverty by bringing extremist groups to power.”

Dr. Seznec was supported in his arguments by N. Janardhan, a UAE-based political analyst. Those opposed were Mani Shankar Aiyar, an Indian politician and author, and Wael Abbas, an Egyptian blogger and democracy activist.

After the program, The Doha Debates conducted a poll on the subject. One thousand people in 17 Arab countries were asked if they would prefer to live in a democratic state, rather than an autocracy that allowed them to get rich. A large majority said they would prefer the democratic state. However, “the same survey revealed that two thirds of them would choose life in communist China instead of India, with its multi-party democracy.”