Photo: “A sea of flags, raised with pride“, by YaZzZz… licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Hue modified from the original

El-Mallakh, Nelly. “How do protests affect electoral choices? Evidence from Egypt.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 179 (2020): 299-322.


This paper examines whether the first and second waves of protest that gripped Egypt starting in January 2011 affected electoral choices in Egypt’s first free presidential elections, which took place between May and June 2012. I geocoded the “martyrs”—demonstrators who died during the protests—using unique information from the Statistical Database of the Egyptian Revolution and exploited the variation in districts’ exposure to the Egyptian protests across space and time. Controlling for district heterogeneity by examining the effect of the change in exposure to protests on the change in pro-regime and opposition support between the 2011 referendum and the 2012 elections, I find suggestive evidence that higher exposure to protest intensity leads to a higher share of votes for former regime candidates, both during the first and second rounds of Egypt’s first presidential elections after the uprisings. I likewise find that greater exposure to protests is associated with an increased recognition of the importance of order and stability and greater willingness to trade-off human rights in exchange for security. Indeed, in governorates that were highly exposed to protests, individuals were more likely to report incidents of theft, destruction of personal or public property, and job loss. Socially and economically disruptive protests could therefore lead to a greater share of conservative votes in highly affected areas.