Determinants of Civic Engagement and Political Participation: A Case Study in Yemen
Contributor(s)Ugaz, Jorge I.
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Yemen's exercise with democracy started with the unification of Yemen Arab Republic and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen in 1990, where the ruling parties acknowledged that to retain power, they had to share power. This window of opportunity instituted a hopeful democratic process for a region with scant freedom of expression and assembly and fair elections. In the early 1990s, a large number of political parties, civil society organizations and charities were founded. However, socio-political challenges weakened the emerging plurality. As soon as the 1994 civil war ended with the defeat of the Yemeni Socialist Party, true political vying amongst political parties declined and politicians were no longer relying on the support of national constituencies. In this research, I hypothesize that women, younger citizens, and residents of southern cities and residents of Saada -home of an imamate insurgency and plagued with armed conflicts with the central government since 2004 - have different levels of civic engagement relative to men, older citizens and residents of other northern cities, respectively. To explore the different levels of civic engagement and political participation, main voting patterns and likelihood to be a member of a political party, I rely on multivariate regression techniques, including Ordinary Least Squares and Logistics models using data from the Arab Barometer II (2011) and the World Values Survey - Wave 6 (2014). My analysis reveals that: 1) In 2011, there was no difference in voting patterns between men and women, whereas in 2014, men are found to be slightly more likely to vote than women. On the other hand, there is a statistically significant difference between their likelihood to be members of political parties; and 2) Younger citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are less likely to vote or be members of political parties relative to their older counterparts; and 3) In 2011, residents of South Yemen were less likely to vote than residents of North Yemen, whereas in 2014, residents of South and North Yemen were as likely to vote. On the other hand, there is a statistically significant difference between their likelihood to be members of political parties in 2011 and 2014.
It is my hope that these findings bring new insights into the current political debate, especially during this transformative period that initiated the Constitution Drafting Committee prerogatives. The results of this study should also guide political parties to develop inclusionary policies to appeal more to female members and the youth; while the central government works on developing policies prioritizing economic growth, social cohesion and short to medium term exceptional policies to remedy past discriminatory actions endured by residents from South Yemen and encourage their political engagement to express their aspirations to affect the policy making process.