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Religious Infrastructure and Electoral Mobilization in Egypt

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King's College London

Strand

Bush House, Auditorium 2, 4th Floor

London

WC2R 2LS

United Kingdom

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Speaker: Dr Steven Brooke

Bio: Steven Brooke is an assistant professor in the department of political science at the University of Louisville. His work focuses on Islamist movements, social service provision and party-voter linkages, and authoritarianism and democratization. He received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin.

Abstract: Why do Islamist parties dominate Middle Eastern elections? We argue that mosques provide Islamic parties with a ready-made platform for face-to-face mobilization of large numbers of voters. This ubiquitous religious infrastructure exercises a particularly pronounced effect in founding elections, when parties must quickly establish linkages with newly-politicized voters. We test this hypothesis by combining a precinct-level spatial dataset from Egypt's 2012 presidential election from Egypt’s two largest cities, Cairo and Alexandria, with web- scraped spatial data on thousands of houses of worship. Both proximity and density of mosques around a particular polling station were important predictors of electoral success for Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi. Churches exercised the same effect for his opponent, former regime figure Ahmed Shafiq. Qualitative and survey data from the period support our argument that Islamist parties derive at least part of their electoral advantage from their ability to exploit an inherited infrastructure of religious institutions.

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King's College London

Strand

Bush House, Auditorium 2, 4th Floor

London

WC2R 2LS

United Kingdom

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