This article looks at the literature on democratization in the Arab world, and links it to the ongoing political change since the ‘Arab Spring’. Whereas assessing the ongoing events in the Arab world as an ‘Arab Spring’ or revolution is still a matter of speculation, there is a need to re-examine the literature on democratization which is dominated by the hypothesis of Arab and Islamic exceptionalism. This article aims at presenting possible explanations for these theoretical perspectives in light of the ongoing debate on definition, characterization and interpretation of what is actually happening in the Arab world, amidst contradicting representation of facts and data. The study concludes that defining the ‘Arab Spring’ as democratic transformation is a premature judgement. What is happening, instead, can be considered a ‘transition from authoritarianism’. Democratic transition depends on a number of factors that allow for building democratic political institutions and at the same time, diminishing the possibilities of renewal of autocracy and authoritarianism in the Arab world.

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