World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Institutions: tools for rulers, or to change the rules of the game? Transformation of the relationship between ruling elites and the opposition through institutions (484) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: FRI 23, 2.30-4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (Japan)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Keiko Sakai

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: The notion that single-party authoritarian regimes are more durable than military regimes or one-person dictatorships, allowing opposition political forces and challenging elites to participate in the political game, has received wide discussion. Single-party regimes, as other authoritarian or totalitarian regimes do, often rely on violent methods to repress the opposition in order to maintain their power. In some single-party regimes in the Middle East, however, ruling parties have used various tools to maintain their power and stability rather than simply oppress the challengers: Forming a coalition government with opposition parties, co-opting them into elite ‘pacts,’ or buying them off through patron-client networks. A number of scholarly works analysing the role of institutions contributing to the consolidation of incumbent regimes have been published; however, it is not clear how the institutions arrange or regulate the relationship between a ruling party and the opposition in the non-democratic regimes in the Middle East. In this panel, we focus on the importance of political institutions and examine how these institutions work in transforming the relationship between the ruling elites and those who are left outside of the regimes. Institutions here include formal institutions, such as electoral systems, multiparty systems, constitutions and local autonomy, as well as informal institutions, such as traditional social bonds, rituals and customs. It has often been argued that the informal institutions played a greater role in the formation of coalitions of ruling elites in the Middle East, as we have seen in the cases of the Gulf states (tribal coalition), or Iraq and Lebanon (communal networks). Introduction of formal democratic institutions, however, offers the regime new opportunities to widen or modify the basis of its ruling coalition. Furthermore, it may change the rules of the game between the incumbent and potential political elites. It sometimes causes transformation and reconsideration of the role of the informal institutions. This panel will discuss how the institutions affect the relationship between ruling elites and opposition forces, how formal institutions reshape the coalition of the incumbent elites and how the institutions regulate the behaviour of the political actors, both ruling elites and political opposition movements, taking examples from the cases of contemporary Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Afghanistan.

Chair: Keiko Sakai, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Paper presenter: Makoto Imai, Keio University, What effects do formally-democratic-institutions have on party competition and cooperation under single-party authoritarian regimes?
In this presentation, I focus on ‘formally-democratic-institutions’ (i.e. national parliaments and parliamentary and presidential elections in single-party authoritarian regimes), and especially on (1) the exclusion rate of opposition parties in the parliament by a ruling party and (2) the difference between parliamentary seats of the leading opposition party and those of the second opposition party in order to explain how a wide variety of interactions among political actors, neither power-sharing by forming a coalition government nor mere cooptation, are formed. I first outline several earlier arguments in the literature of ‘Comparative Authoritarianism,’ which have searched for causal effects and mechanisms of the durability of authoritarian regimes by making comparisons between them, and suggest my own hypothesis concerning party competition and cooperation under single-party authoritarian regimes. Secondly, by use of a statistical analysis, I estimate the causal effects of many independent and control variables (political, institutional, economic, social and international variables) on these interactions among political actors. Thirdly, I contrast two cases of these interactions in the Middle East: Egypt under Mubarak and Yemen after unification. Finally, I suggest several implications of these arguments for a large number of cases of single-party authoritarian regimes in other regions, thus allowing the hypothesis to present a general and cross-regional argument.

Paper presenter: Housam Darwisheh, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, The Impact of Changing Electoral Institutions on the Party System and Determinants of Electoral Competition in Egypt (1984 - 2005)
This presentation examines and analyzes the interaction between electoral and party institutions in contemporary Egypt since 1984. The main focus is on the impact of electoral institutions on the party system and determinants of party competition under the rule of Husni Mubarak. The paper pays special attention to the dynamics of the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral participation and its impact on party competition. The importance placed on the role of the Brotherhood is attributed to its influential role, internally as the most popular sociopolitical force among the political parties of Egypt and externally as the most influential populist Islamist group throughout the Middle East and Arab World.

Paper presenter: Ratib Muzafary, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Karzai's Strategy of Keeping Parliament Weak: The Absence of Political Parties and its Impact on the Function of the Afghan Parliament
This presentation will analysise the performance of the new Afghan parliament during its first period, 2005-10. I will shed light on the absence of political parties and disclose how parliament was turned into a weak institution. I also focus on the president’s strategy of maintaining ineffectual party politics in order to influence parliament, not through political parties but through successfully maintaining his personal influence on the members of parliament as individuals.

Paper presenter: Masaki Mizobuchi, Sophia University, Competitive Clientelism in Lebanon: Za'’m-based Oligarchy and Parliamentary Elections after the Withdrawal of Syria
This presentation will make an analysis of the last two parliamentary elections in Lebanon (2005 and 2009). Although Syrian withdrawal in 2005 was justified for the recovery of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ in Lebanon, these two elections were completely different from free-competitive and democratic ones. Why, however, was such a consequence brought about? In this presentation I try to resolve this question through an analysis of the electoral institutions and patron-client relationships, and I will point out the fact that elections in Lebanon are only an institutional device which sustains and reinforces the clientelism-based oligarchy or za’’m domination system, rather than restrain it.

Paper presenter: Takuro Kikkawa, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Who is Jordanian? National Unity and Diversity of Identities among the Elites
Although the Hashemite monarchy has successfully secured its legitimacy within the national boundary of Jordan since 1946, the Jordanian national identity still seems not to be consolidated. In this presentation, I attempt to examine the spread of national identity among Jordan’s politically relevant elites, particularly after the enthronement of King Abdullah in 1999. Firstly, I summarize the background to the ongoing state-led nationalism, and also investigate its driving and centrifugal force. Secondly, from the perspective of comparative politics, I try to sketch the formal and informal network of interactions among the elites in regard to national unity, focusing upon their discourse and action in a series of crises since 1999. Curiously, Jordan’s unique position in international society and the regional crises have empowered state-led nationalism and strengthened solidarity among the elites, albeit with a lack of enthusiasm and cooperation.