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Title:Democratic revolutionaries or pocketbook protesters? The roots of the 2009-2010 uprisings in Niger
Author:Mueller, Lisa
Periodical:African affairs: the journal of the Royal African Society (ISSN 0001-9909)
Geographic term:Niger
Abstract:This article investigates whether political or economic grievances were the main driver of the mass demonstrations in Niger in 2009-2010, which occurred at a time of famine and the President's attempt to defy the constitution and seek a third term in office. Using original survey data from a quasi-random sample of Niamey residents, the article shows that low prospects of upward mobility are associated with a higher likelihood of protest participation, whereas opposition to the President's anti-constitutional politics is not. Membership in civic organizations is also associated with higher protest participation, but not because these groups are effective at framing the issues: what matters is the capacity of organizations to mobilize individuals. This suggests that civil society may have a galvanizing effect on citizens, even if efforts to win hearts and minds fail. The article concludes that the uprisings were driven mainly by economic grievances, thus contradicting international perceptions of the protests as a public outcry for democracy and casting doubt on the motivations behind supposedly pro-democracy movements, especially in contexts where autocracy and poverty coincide. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]