History abounds with instances in which Western countries have pursued policies supporting authoritarian regimes, while lukewarmly investing in democracy promotion. The EU and US's attitudes vis-à-vis the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region has followed this pattern. By looking at political discourse and practice, this paper explores the conceptual loopholes into which Western policy-makers have often fallen when choosing stability over democracy in the southern Mediterranean region. This paper focuses on US and EU attitudes towards MENA countries before and after the start of the Arab Spring with the goal of reappraising mainstream approaches to political stability amongst both governmental and non-governmental actors.
1. Political stability: a multifaceted concept
2. The US and the EU: different narratives, similar pro-stability policies
3. Explaining Western preference for stability over democracy: political stability assessment