The unexpected waves of protests across the Middle East have once again generated academic interest in the emergence and development of pro-democratic social movements in repressive contexts. Despite the similarities in the beginning of the uprisings, their trajectories and outcomes have varied greatly from country to country: In Tunisia and Egypt repression escalated protests and immediately led to overthrow of their long-time dictatorships. But in Egypt, after two years, conflicts flared up and the new government was ousted by a military coup. The subsequent repression radicalized the protests and violent confrontations have recently escalated. In Syria substantial increase in violent repression radicalized the protestors and led to a civil war between the government and opposition forces. In Libya, also, violent repression resulted in a civil war with foreign military intervention then ended up the government overthrown. In Bahrain, harsh repression ended up in deterrence of the movement.

The case of Iran’s Green Movement, which emerged eighteen months before the Arab uprisings, presents an even more puzzling scenario. Over four years from 2009 to 2013 the form and amount of participation greatly varied while state uphold the level of repression: From the eight-month massive street demonstrations followed by a period of considerable use of the Internet for online protests to a substantial decline in both off-line and online activities after the house arrest of IGM’s leaders in 2011, and to a considerable increase in off- and online electoral activities accompanied by strategy change of movement during 2013’s presidential election. Moreover, the Iranian case challenges the model that suggests if repression continues, social movements either deters or radicalizes (Brockett, 1993). In fact, although this model is highly supported by a considerable body of evidence (Johnston 2012:110), the Iranian Green Movement neither deterred nor radicalized in these four years, despite sustained severe repression.

This raises the question of how the Iranian pro-democratic movement non-violently resisted and survived under severe repression. To deal with this question, the unique data from three waves of online surveys and interviews before, during and after 2013 Iran’s presidential election is used. This study revisited the relationship between repression and movement participation, by taking into account two crucial, but neglected, factors: the role of online activism (as a tactic) in surviving social movements, and electoral politics in breaking the repression and surviving the non-violent movement.

Short Movie

This video introduces the methodology of the research and presents some variables and some descriptive results of the data.


Published and unpublished publications based on or related to the Iran's 2013 Election Data:

  • Ali Honari and Jasper Muis. To vote or to boycott? The dynamics of contagion and political participation in the Iranian presidential elections (2013).
  • Ali Honari. The dynamics of off- and online movement participation under severe repression: Iran’s Green Movement between Two Elections (2009 - 2013)


If you use these data, please add the following citation to your scholarly references.

Honari, A., van Stekelenburg, J. and Klandermans, B. (2014). Socio-Political Participation in Iran: 2013 Election Data set. Retrieved from http://IranPolPartResearch.org

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