World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Building Democracy Processes in the Arab World (425) - Panel

· Date: FRI 23 / 9.00-11.00 am

· Language: English

· Description:
Chair: Hürcan Asli Aksoy and Nadine Kreitmeyr (University of Tübingen)

Paper Presenter: Janette Uhlmann (Country Officer, World Bank), “Why democratic donors are bad democracy promoters in dilemma situations: An analysis of risks and trade-offs for France and Germany towards Algeria (1989-2004)”
Democracy promoters are faced with a Democracy promotion-stability dilemma in conflict-affected transition countries. This analysis is explaining why Western democracies France and Germany, in contrary to democratic peace theory, were hesitant to promote democracy in their bilateral relations towards conflict-affected Algeria in the 1990s. On the basis of a risk analysis model, the paper identifies trade-off situations and risk factors for donors that determined their variant behaviour and showed how a specific conflict situation in the recipient country Algeria affected their policy and politics of democracy promotion. If effects of democratic transition put at risk their own interests, democratic donors are less inclined to promote democracy but implement mainly their hard security interests. In difference to the theory of democratic peace which assumes a normative interest of democracies to promote democracy in their external relations, donor practice over various periods and recipient countries demonstrates a different picture. Democracy promoters often refrained from pursuing their normative interests. Moreover, strong risk perception and trade-offs of donors make them adapt their bilateral politics. Both democracy promoters France and Germany tried to solve the trade-offs through a risk-minimizing strategy by engaging with and stabilizing the Algerian government. Democracy promotion became subordinated because it was from donor perspective a more risky strategy which might have supported unwanted anti-western Islamist actors. In addition, historical relations between the countries and internal conditions in the donor countries play an important role in bilateral politics. The analysis proved that political interventions in a transformation country carry additional risks for donor countries. If the democratization process brings also radical Islamist actors to the surface and affects negatively national interests of donors, Western democracy promoters develop a preference for stable and controllable developments in recipient countries. The case study suggests that more detailed and risk sensitive analysis is needed before engaging in unforeseeable political processes in transition countries.

Paper Presenter: Radwan Ziadeh (Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy), “The role of the state and democracy building in the Arab world”
The Arab world remained relatively unaffected by the third wave of democratization which accrued in Eastern Europe and Latin America. In the Arab world, the political landscape continues to span varying forms of state authoritarianism and in some cases, demonstrates purely totalitarian tendencies. The pervasiveness of authoritarianism in the region embodies a significant impediment to democratization. Although Arabic states have not witnessed full-scale democratization, many have initiated a modicum of limited political and social liberalization measures. Most Arab elites have described these tactics as a restructuring of their political systems, whereby they adopt a model of socio-political openness, albeit partial or limited. In reality, they are pursuing a strategy of liberalization without democratization as we saw in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. This often translates into a transition from a purely totalitarian model based on complete state domination toward a sort of waiver of the traditional methods of controlling all sectors of political, social, and economic life, without entirely relinquishing their hegemonic positions. Though it might be said that these efforts signify an attempt by Arab states to adapt to the third wave, they have largely ignored the patterns of privatization, which, as Huntington identified in the 1990s, yielded substantive changes in regions such as Eastern Europe and some northern Mediterranean states. The Arab states were characterized by the established political structures, navigating a range of legal and semi-legal actions, such as reinstituting emergency laws and initiating questionable “constitutional institutions”, as well as judicial and regulatory oversight of the media and community writ large. These processes ultimately led to a disintegration of the values for public affairs as perceived by Arab society. Despite the persistence of this “lost decade” within the Arab world, the international community began to focus almost exclusively on the Arab-Israeli peace process, and came to almost entirely ignore the yearnings of many of these communities for democracy. The world considered the success of Arab-Israeli peace the only way to solve the region’s wider problems, and seemed to act on the pretext that no regional political reform was even possible as long as the Mashreq states remained at war with Israel. Thus ensued a general ignorance of and lack of engagement with nascent reformist calls within the region as long as the Arab-Israeli conflict raged on. This created space for the Arab states to crack down and persist in their calls for “emergency laws” and other special, coercive measures. Whatever cries for democracy were uttered by activists during that period were either left to the winds or blocked by prison walls.

Paper Presenter: Maria Josua (Assistant Professor, Institute of Political Science, University of Tuebingen), "Linking Strategies of Legitimation to Sources of Legitimacy: Explaining the Durability of Authoritarian Rule in the Middle East"
Legitimacy constitutes a central, but rather complex concept in political science. This is especially true for the legitimacy of the authoritarian, neo-patrimonial regimes found throughout the Middle East. While a normative perspective would claim that authoritarian regimes are illegitimate by their very nature, an empirical approach inspired by Max Weber (focussing on the individual’s belief in legitimacy; Legitimitätsglaube) yields different results. Building upon Weber’s ideal types of legitimacy, which also constitute ideal types of political rule, Michael Hudson (1977) showed that in the Middle East we do find ideological, traditional and material (allocative) legitimacy. However, because these sources of legitimacy have experienced various crises during the past decades, new strategies of legitimating have been employed recently (Albrecht & Schlumberger 2004, Bank 2004). These are an important explanatory factor for the puzzling durability of authoritarian rule in the region (Schlumberger 2007, Heydemann 2007). No coherent attempt has so far been made to explicitly link the concepts of legitimacy with crises and strategies of legitimating. This paper fills the gap by conceptualizing this link, thus providing a more integrated and holistic picture of legitimacy as an analytical category which is vital to the study of authoritarian regimes. In a first step, the paper discusses possible sources of legitimacy as presented by Weber/Hudson. Then, potential or actual crises of these sources of legitimacy are sketched out. The paper identifies several types of regime crises that may lead to crises of legitimacy: economic crises, internal conflict, e.g. with militant Islamists, open popular discontent, succession of leadership, intra-elite rivalry etc. These crises may serve as an indicator for a structural lack or sudden loss of legitimacy, i.e. the manifestation of the decline of a former source of legitimacy. They induce the political elites to embark upon strategies of compensation, either by activating hitherto neglected sources of legitimacy, stressing other sources of legitimacy or introducing entirely new legitimation strategies. Examining the success or failure of these renewed strategies of legitimation could serve as a way of tackling the common problem of incommensurability of legitimacy in later stages of research. The aim of this contribution is to offer a typology combining legitimation strategies and differences in sources of legitimacy.