Countries transitioning from autocracy to democracy often struggle to maintain law and order. Yet relatively little is known about how increasing crime rates impact public support for authoritarian leadership during a transition. We find an empirical relationship between rising crime and support for authoritarian leadership in Egypt following the 2011 uprisings. Analysis of original crime data from Egypt suggests that electoral districts exposed to larger year-on-year changes in localized patterns of crime were more likely to vote for the ‘strongman’ candidate in Egypt’s first, and only, free and fair presidential election in 2012. We also analyze survey data which shows that Egyptians who were highly concerned about crime were more likely to express support for a ‘strong leader’ as well as for military rule, even after controlling for a broad set of covariates. This research illustrates how instability triggered by political transitions can have negative implications for democratic consolidation.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.