I am a research fellow at the Belfer Center's Middle East Initiative at Harvard University. My research interests include political psychology and voting behavior; religion and politics; Islamist movements; hybrid regimes; and experimental, qualitative, and survey methodologies. I am currently working on a book manuscript that asks why some identity-based political parties are able to build support beyond core, in-group supporters while others fail to do so. Empirically, the manuscript explores how the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey and Al-Nahda in Tunisia built diverse coalitions and moved from the Islamist fringes of society to the political core. My research has been supported by the Boren Fellowship, the Department of Education, the Project on Middle East Political Science, and the Graduate School at the University of Texas at Austin. I will receive my doctorate in Government from the University of Texas at Austin (expected Spring 2018), and hold an MA degree from the University of Chicago, and BA and BS degrees from the University of Florida.
Middle East & North African Politics
Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior
My book project asks why some identity-based political parties are able to build support beyond core, in-group supporters while others fail to do so. Empirically, the manuscript explores how the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey and Al-Nahda in Tunisia built diverse coalitions and, ultimately, moved from the Islamist fringes of society to the political core. But while the AKP in Turkey has maintained its alliance with mainstream voters for more than fifteen years, Al-Nahda lost to politicians closely aligned with the ousted Ben Ali regime after only three years in power. I argue that the success of the AKP in Turkey and Al-Nahda during Tunisia’s first post-authoritarian election in 2011 sprang from the parties’ histories of political suffering under repressive political institutions that marginalized large segments of society. A history of imprisonment, exile, or torture enables politicians to credibly position themselves as representatives and protectors of the excluded masses. The victimhood-support relationship will be strongest at moments when voters are fed up with ruling politicians’ abuses of power and are willing to take risks in favor of state transformation.