World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Perspectives on Political Parties in the Middle East (043) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: MON 19, 5 - 7 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Chair: Pere Vilanova (Director, División de Asuntos Estratégicos y de Seguridad, Ministerio de Defensa, Madrid, Spain)

Paper Presenter: Ildiko Kaposi (Assistant Professor, American University of Kuwait), “Mediatization and the Participatory Emirate: Campaign Communication in the 2008 and 2009 Kuwaiti Elections”
The concept of mediatization highlights the connections that exist between societal changes and the role of the media in the transformations of society. The paper proposes to explore the mediatization of politics in the context of Kuwaiti election campaigns. The paper is based on research conducted during the parliamentary election campaigns of 2008 and 2009. During campaign 2008, data were gathered from a qualitative content analysis of the election coverage in two leading Kuwaiti newspapers, observation carried out at campaign rallies, and interviews with campaign managers, campaign workers, journalists, and voters. In campaign 2009, interviews were conducted with journalists, and a questionnaire was administered to the campaigns that were willing to answer it. The analysis of the research data proceeds in two steps. First it explores the role of the media in Kuwaiti politics, asking whether and to what extent the changing context of election campaigning entails a shift from interpersonal to mediated forms of political communication. The second part engages with the elements of the mediatization of politics. In particular, the data gathered from the research are interrogated for signs of the assertion of a ‘media logic’ (Altheide, 2004), an incorporation of media-based logic and norms into political campaigns. Evidence points to Kuwaiti candidates’ realising that the media now constitutes an important public forum of participation that political actors cannot afford to ignore. There are also traces of ‘professionalism’ emerging in the campaigns. Other aspects of the mediatization of politics like the extensive use of opinion polls or the emergence of the media as an entity independent of politics are less apparent. Nevertheless, the media constitute a robust forum for campaign communication. This fact may in itself be inducing social change (Schulz, 2004), but the process is not linear. Embedded in existing practices of communication, media production, circulation, and reception create interpretations that are circulated back into media production and political life (Couldry, 2008). Works cited Altheide, D. L. (2004). Media Logic and Political Communication. Political Communication 21(3), 293-296.Couldry, N. (2008). Mediatization or Mediation? Alternative understandings of the emergent space of digital storytelling. New Media & Society 10(3), 373-391.Schulz, W. (2004). Reconstructing Mediatization as an Analytical Concept. European Journal of Communication 19(1), 87-101.

Paper Presenter: Benedetta Berti (PhD Candidate /Doctoral Fellow, Fletcher School), “Between Political Accomodation and Conflict: Hamas and Hezbollah as Political Parties and Their Role in Electoral Politics”
As armed groups show greater interest in using elections to gain public office, analysts and policymakers must determine the reasons behind this development and its potential impact at the local, regional, and global level. The study relies on comparative case studies (the Palestinian political system and Hamas, and the Lebanese political arena and Hezbollah) to answer the question: why do armed groups decide to participate in the political process? In addressing this question, why armed groups choose to invest in a given political system? The main hypothesis postulates, contrary to a consistent strain in the literature, that this step cannot be seen in the context of a linear development process from armed and terrorist organization to political entity. Instead, it should be analyzed by applying a cyclical model: the group’s political involvement occurs cyclically, and the political and the armed options are chosen in turn in response to stimuli best explained by resource mobilization and organizational theory. The study uses this theoretical framework to analyze the internal decision-making patterns of the chosen organizations, relating the group’s decision to pursue either the political or military option with the amount and nature of its available resources and with its ability to mobilize. Because these factors (resources, alliances, and constituencies) are not fixed and tend to shift over time, the two options will alternate’ one coming to dominance while the other becomes secondary, without however ceasing to exist. A historical-institutional comparison of the chosen groups and their political strategy allows to assess the role of external factors, internal dynamics, and organizational constraints in shaping a given group’s political strategy, as well as to measure the impact of the process of political institutionalization on the groups’ recourse to violence. The comparison between the different cases also focuses on the role of normative constraints and political tools adopted to engage the organizations in the political process. The research relies heavily on data gathered through field research, and the research design is mostly qualitative in nature.

Paper Presenter: Maria-Virtuts Sambró i Melero (Dr., Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) “Bosnia and the Muslims Democratics Parties”
A lot of times we forget that the Balkan region is in the Mediterranean area. We cannot understand the eastern Mediterranean without Albania or Greece but at the same time without others presents states how Serbia, Croatia or Bosnia and Herzegovina. This last state is very specific. It was a sovereign nation in the Middle Age. In the XV century was invaded by Turkey, in this Muslim empire Bosnia had a special political site because the majority of the population was converted to Islam religious but not to Arabic or Turkish culture. In 1878 the Berlin Congress accept the Austro-Hungarian invasion in Bosnia and it country received a special status another time, because in this time Bosnia was the most tolerant region in the zone. Between 1919 and 1939 Bosnia suffered the fragmentation of it land in the borders of the first Yugoslavia. Since 1945 to 1980 lived in the Yugoslavia of Tito which survived the dead of the leader (1980) but not the fall of communist system (1989). In 1992 Bosnia is sovereign country again but to 1995 suffered the war with horrible systems: ethnic cleansing, massive rap, concentration camps, etc. In December 14th 1995 were signed the Dayton’s Peace Agree. Today Bosnia is one country but divided in two units (Muslim Croat Federation and Republika Srpska) but the first power on the all territory is the OHR (Office of the High Representative).Bosnia today as the same than at the past, is a multicultural and multi-religious country and the majority of population is Muslim. Islam never was a problem, the Christian opposition yes. Bosnia was the first country in Europe which had Muslims democratic parties and one of them (SDA, Democratic Action Party) is in the parliament and in the presidency from 1990. Now when Europe suffered the Islamist terrorism and tries to find a solution, Bosnia is the best pacific solution because at large of the XX century Bosnian Muslims have created some different democratic parties and sometimes in coalition with another parties which weren’t Islamic. If the European Union admits Bosnia how a member and gives support to the democratic Islamic parties they will open another solution for Muslims in the world, the terrorism will have another democratic enemy but this enemy speaks the same language.