Attitudes on Family Law as an Electoral Cleavage: Survey Evidence from Tunisia

In: Middle East Law and Governance
Salih Yasun Department of Political Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA

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Most societies in the Middle East and North Africa region (mena) are subject to strict family laws. Do these laws affect voters’ decisions? In this article, I argue that public attitudes on family law constitute an issue-based social cleavage in Tunisia, and I examine the influence of family law on whether individuals vote for Ennahda, the largest conservative party, or Nidaa Tounes, the authoritarian successor party. Findings from a Multinomial Logistic Regression on Afrobarometer data indicate that individuals who hold more egalitarian views on women’s inheritance rights are less likely to vote for Ennahda and more likely to vote for Nidaa Tounes, whereas there is no statistically significant relationship between opinions on women’s divorce rights and voting. These study findings suggest that the attitudes on provisions of family law are an alternative source of social cleavage in emerging democracies, which can have relevance in other country settings in the mena.

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