On the face of it, one might conclude that democracy is thriving in the Arab world.
On Tuesday millions of Syrians are voting in presidential elections. Egyptians have just chosen a new head of state and will elect MPs in the near future.
Earlier this year, elections were held in Iraq and Algeria. Kuwaitis are voting in by-elections in the coming weeks and Tunisians will be going to the polls before the end of this year.
But appearances are deceptive. For the reality is that Arab democracy has made little progress thus far in breaking patterns of leadership established during long decades of autocratic rule.
The Arab Spring promised much, but thus far it has achieved little.