Beyond Ballotocracy: Citizens' Voices and the Many Faces of Unruly Politics
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Pre-submitted version of article for IDS Bulletin 45.5. This paper is an empirical account of how modes of capturing citizen voices from above (via elections) diverged with expressions of citizen dissidence from below (through unruly politics), leading to a disjuncture between western policy and scholarly analyses’ and the situation on the ground in post-Mubarak Egypt in the period 2011-2013. The paper does not suggest the abandonment of elections as a means of capturing citizen voices but unless elections are complemented with other measures that capture the changing ‘citizen pulse’ across different times and spaces, disconnects between what is happening on the ground in Egypt and international and national policy will grow, with the outcome of growing violence and loss of human lives. The paper argues that attempts to methodologically capture the ‘pulse of citizens’ must be sensitive to its dynamic nature (requiring constant revision and verification) and sensitive to the highly specific contextual nature of its expression and decryption.