Politicians couldn’t predict the violence in Egypt, but political scientists did

6a0105369e3ea1970b0148c840c1ac970c 320wi - Politicians couldn't predict the violence in Egypt, but political scientists did In between wondering what’s next for the Middle East, most of the world is taking the time to be surprised.  Nobody saw the revolution coming in Tunisia.  Nobody predicted the street protests in Egypt.

At least, we didn’t.  As it happens, somebody predicted exactly what was going to happen in those countries … and in Iran, and in Jordon. 

In fact, three academics developed a model of predicting political turmoil that is now 7 for 7 on predictions of global unrest. 

The Predictive Societal Indicators of Radicalism Model of Domestic Political Violence Forecast was developed by two Kansas State University professors, Sam Bell Amanda Murdie in collaboration with Professor Cingranelli at SUNY Binghamton University.  It lists 37 nations that the model believes will see domestic political uprisings in the next five years – and so far all seven nations to do so since the 2010 predictions were made (including Iran, Tunisia, and Egypt) are, in fact, on the list.  

The tool was developed for an Open Innovation company called Milcord that builds knowledge management systems for federal governments. The researchers compiled a database based on public information on 150 countries. The data cover the amount and intensity of politically motivated domestic violence spanning two decades from 1990-2009. The violence includes a full spectrum from non-violent sit-ins that go over the edge to politically motivated bombings.   

The predicts that three elements are needed for a domestic political uprising to happen: coercion, coordination and capacity.

Coercion means the degree to which the government human rights and material needs.  

Coordination is the ability of people to come together under a common mission, to overthrow a government. With recent technological developments, coordination is getting even easier.

Capacity refers to the government’s ability to squash a growing movement.  Geography, infrastructure, and economics can all support or hinder the government’s ability to stop a movement from spreading throughout the country.

So, if the model is right, where else is domestic political violence coming by 2015?  The 35 countries predicted by the model are:


1  Iran*  

2  Sri Lanka  

3  Russia 

4  Georgia  

5  Israel  

6  Turkey  

7  Burundi  

8  Chad  

9  Honduras  

10  Czech Republic 

11  China  

12  Italy* 

13  Columbia  

14  Ukraine  

15  Indonesia  

16  Malaysia  

17  Jordan  

18  Mexico 

19  Kenya  

20  South Africa  

21  Ireland* 

22  Peru* 

23  Chile  

24  Armenia  

25  Tunisia* 

26  Congo  

27  Belarus  

28  Argentina  

29  Albania  

30  Ecuador * 

31 Sudan  

32  Austria  

33  Nigeria 

34  Syria  

35  Kyrgyz  

36  Egypt*  

37  Belgium 


It’s hard not to be impressed by the predictive power of this model – but at the same time, we need to recognize that many (though not all) of the countries on this list are among the most oppressive in the world … places where a populace would have a clear moral case for an uprising. 

That’s not hard to spot, and it’s no surprise that we are seeing people take to the streets for their rights.  As Paulo Freire said in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “This, then, is the greatest humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.”

— Makenna Berry

Photo By M. Soli [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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