Studies 15 October, 2014

On Social Justice and Public Spending Policies in the ‘Arab Revolution States’

Ali Abd Al Qader

Professor Ali Abdulkader Ali is a Sudanese academic who studied at Khartoum University’s College of Economics before pursuing his doctorate at Essex University in the UK. He returned to Sudan to become a lecturer in Economic Sciences, at Khartoum and Gezira Universities, the latter of which he helped to establish. Outside of academia, his consulting skills have been put to use in the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, as the Director of Research at the Arab Investment Guarantees Corporation, as well as the head of Economic and Social Policies at the African Economic Committee of the United Nations. At present, Prof. In addition, Professor Ali has been an advisor to a number of international and intergovernmental organizations, such as the Islamic Development Bank, the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development, the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, UNICEF, and the UNDP.

Abstract: With the emergence of what will be referred to in this paper as ‘Arab revolution states,’ new governments were faced with the challenge of creating a public spending policy able to meet the demands of their revolutions. It is to this challenge that this paper addresses itself. It sees the revolutions across the Arab world as part of an attempt to establish democratic systems of government, including pluralist political institutions. The people who took to the streets across the Arab world demanded democracy, and the efficient economic institutions that it entails. This paper proposes that the challenge of formulating a public spending policy that is in line with the revolutions’ aspirations for social justice lies in the lack of new developments in this area, on the part of international development aid donors, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Policies remain stagnant despite the empirical evidence showing the success of alternative models of redistributive public spending, in particular in their realization of progress in the realm of social justice. The evidence for this success will be reviewed here, and considered alongside information about the different class interests in the societies of the ‘Arab revolution states.’ After presenting empirical results estimating the size of the middle class, the paper will show that it forms the majority of the population in these states, and will then go on to suggest that transition to democracy must rely on the preferences of this electorate in terms of imposing redistributive public spending policies. It presents a model whereby the middle class, as median voters, play a pivotal role in determining policy, and suggests how this will be the case.

 

Please click on the PDF reader below to read the entire document. This paper originally appeared in the ninth edition of Omran, and was translated into English by the ACRPS Translation and English Editing team. To read the original Arabic document, please click here.