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Beyond the Arab SpringThe Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East$
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Mehran Kamrava

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199384419

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199384419.001.0001

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Political Party Development Before And After The Arab Spring

Political Party Development Before And After The Arab Spring

(p.131) 5 Political Party Development Before And After The Arab Spring
Beyond the Arab Spring

Shadi Hamid

Oxford University Press

Political parties have long struggled to gain traction in the Arab world due to a number of inhibiting factors, among them a potent mix of repression and government co-optation. Islamist movements have over time solidified themselves as leading political actors. Yet, they are a far cry from traditional, Western-style parties. Political parties generally seek to win elections and assume executive power. In the Arab world, however, parties were rarely given the opportunity to govern—or think about governing—at local or national levels. Citizens saw little utility in joining parties that would never be permitted a real stake in the political process. Political parties served a purpose under some semi-authoritarian regimes. Rather than eliminate dissent altogether, regimes hoped to manage and contain it. Political parties provided the illusion of freedom and pluralism. At the same time, opposition parties used elections—and all their accompanying rules and procedures—to negotiate the boundaries of political contestation with regimes. With the fall of old regimes, parties were, for the first time, allowed to win elections, thereby propelling them to a newfound prominence as the primary vehicles for political expression and representation, as was seen in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

Keywords:   Islamist movements, semi-authoritarian regimes, political parties, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia

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