Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010

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Institutional Politics and Political Engagement under Authoritarian Rule in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) (322) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED institution: European University Institute, EUI (Italy)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Kevin Koehler

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Institutional Politics and Political Engagement under Authoritarian Rule in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)Organizers: Teije Donker & Kevin Koehler (EUI)In recent years, research on non-democratic regimes has increasingly moved away from the formerly dominant ‘Transition Paradigm’ (Carothers 2002) and started to examine authoritarian regimes as objects of study in their own rights. Leaving behind the earlier focus on the normatively desirable outcomes of authoritarian breakdown and democratization, this change of perspective has since produced important debates in the study of authoritarian rule on both the conceptual and substantive levels (see Blaydes [forthcoming], Gandhi 2008, Lust-Okar 2005, Magaloni 2006).The panel draws on these debates by focusing on the dynamics of authoritarian politics during what Barbara Geddes (2005, 2) called ‘normal authoritarian times,’ as opposed to times of regime breakdown and rapid change. Even during such times, authoritarian rule is neither as monolithic and static nor as uninsititutionalized and arbitrary as convetional wisdom would suggest. Rather, recent scholarship shows that neither political engagement, nor institutionalization is necessarily antithetical to authoritarian rule. Analyzing such ‘unconventional’ forms of non-democratic politics will deepen our understanding of the working mechanisms of authoritarian rule beyond the questions of stability and breakdown. Drawing on different cases and research designs, and coming from different conceptual debates in Comparative Politics, the contributors to this panel try to unravel the complex relationship between authoritarian rule, institutional politics, and political engagement in the MENA from a number of different empirical angles. Building on recent debates on political opposition (Albrecht 2005, Lust-Okar 2005), electoral politics (Blaydes [forthcoming], Koehler 2008, Lust-Okar 2006, Magaloni 2006), (protest) mobilization (Boudreau 2007, Carey 2009, Haklai 2009), and political participation more generally (Lust-Okar & Zerhouni 2008), all contributors are centrally concerned with the question of how the authoritarian dynamics of political rule in the MENA enable, constrain, and interact with different forms of political engagement.

Chair: Holger Albrecht, American University in Cairo (AUC)

Paper presenter: Ellen Lust, Yale University, Splits and Mergers: Structural and Institutional Factors affecting Party Stability

Paper presenter: Kevin Koehler, European University Institute, Unpacking Authoritarian Elections: Patterns of Electoral Politics in the MENA

Paper presenter: Jana Warkotsch, European University Institute (EUI), Disentangeling Mobilization under Authoritarianism

Paper presenter: Teije Donker, European University Institute (EUI), Movement in Authoritarianism: The Sunni Social Movement and Regime Durability in Syria

In ‘Splits and Mergers: Structural and Institutional Factors affecting Party Stability,’ Ellen Lust explores the institutional and structural factors that affect the strength of political parties and the stability of party systems in Arab states. Although we recognize the importance of dominant political parties (Brownlee 2007, Greene 2007), too little has been done to understand the transformations of political parties and party systems in authoritarian regimes. The paper presents a formal model of party splits and mergers, and considers the decision-making of party elites, voters, and ruling elites. Empirically, the case draws on comparative evidence from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and the Palestinian Authority. It argues that the dynamics of authoritarianism undermines the emergence of strong parties, but the extent to which they do so depends on institutional structures as well as the individual-level incentives for party elites.

Remaining in the field of institutionalized political processes, Kevin Koehler argues in ‘Unpacking Authoritarian Elections: Patterns of Electoral Politics in the MENA,’ that despite numerous valuable insights, recent scholarship on electoral politics in the MENA has failed to account for the considerable degree of variation among elections in different countries of the region. Building on existing debates on the role of authoritarian elections (see Blaydes [forthcoming], Brownlee 2007, Gandhi & Lust-Okar 2009, Lust-Okar 2006, Magaloni 2006), he contends that recent studies have focused too closely on the particular type of authoritarian elections dominated by hegemonic parties. Although this type is undoubtedly important, there are other patterns of electoral politics that follow different functional logics. The contribution analyzes these functional logics by contrasting electoral politics dominated by a hegemonic ruling party in Egypt, with no-party elections in Kuwait, and multiparty elections in Morocco, presenting some initial explanatory hypotheses accounting for the different dynamics of electoral politics under authoritarianism in the MENA.

The second half of the panel focusing on political engagement outside of formal institutions is introduced by Jana Warkotsch. In ‘Disentangeling Mobilization under Authoritarianism,’ she analyzes the politics of protest mobilization by the anti-authoritarian ‘Kifaya’-movement in Egypt. Arguing that mainstream Social Movement Research has made progress in understanding how different individual aspects of authoritarian rule- and here especially repression- affect protest mobilization, she maintains that the effects of authoritarian rule on protest mobilization have still not been examined systematically. Against the backdrop of an analysis of the emergence and demise of the’ Egyptian Movement for Change’, her paper attempts to contribute to closing this gap by advancing hypotheses on how the specific personalist regime found in Egypt interacts with social movements to shape the conditions of their formation, their developmental trajectories, as well as their prospects of success.

A central topic in the study of political engagement in the MENA is the field of Islamic activism. In his contribution entitled: Movement in Authoritarianism: The Sunni Social Movement and Regime Durability in Syria, Teije Donker argues that current debates show an increasing appreciation of the dynamic nature of Middle Eastern authoritarianism and the ambiguous position of socio-political contention vis-à-vis authoritarian regimes. His contribution builds on these debates and asks how - and why-the dynamic forms of repression found in Syria influence the interaction between social movements and the regime. Drawing on Social Movement Theory as an analytical framework, it provides an in-depth empirical account of the interaction between the Sunni movement and the regime in Syria and focuses on, first, the often intimate relations between (and to certain extent entrenchment of) movement and regime and, second, the resulting (non-)mobilization of the Syrian Sunni movement. ReferencesAlbrecht, Holger. 2005. ''How Can Opposition Support Authoritarianism? Lessons from Egypt.'' Democratization 12, no. 3: 378-97.Blaydes, Lisa. (forthcoming). Competition without Democracy: Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak's Egypt. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.Boudreau, Vincent. 2004. Resisting Dictatorship: Repression and Protest in Southeast Asia. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. Brownlee, Jason. 2007. Authoritarianism in an Age of Democratization. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. Carey, Sabine C. 2009. Protest, Repression and Political Regimes: An Empirical Analysis of Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. London; New York: Routledge. Carothers, Thomas. 2002. ''The End of the Transition Paradigm.'' Journal of Democracy 13, no. 1: 5-21.Gandhi, Jennifer. 2008. Political Institutions under Dictatorship. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. Gandhi, Jennifer and Ellen Lust-Okar. 2009. ''Elections under Authoritarianism.'' Annual Review of Political Science 12: 403-22.Geddes, Barbara. 2005. ''Why Parties and Elections in Authoritarian Regimes?'' Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington D.C.Greene, Kenneth F. 2007. Why Dominant Parties Lose: Mexico's Democratization in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge New York: Cambridge University Press. Haklai, Oded. 2009. ''Authoritarianism and Islamic Movements in the Middle East: Research and Theory-Building in the Twenty-First Century.'' International Studies Review 11, no. 1: 27-45.Koehler, Kevin. 2008. ''Authoritarian Elections in Egypt: Formal Institutions and Informal Mechanisms of Rule.'' Democratization 15, no. 5: 974-90.Lust-Okar, Ellen. 2006. ''Elections under Authoritarianism: Preliminary Lessons from Jordan.'' Democratization 13, no. 3: 456-71.. 2005. Structuring Conflict in the Arab World: Incumbents, Opponents, and Institutions. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.Lust-Okar, Ellen and Saloua Zerhouni (eds.). 2008. Political Participation in the Middle East. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Magaloni, Beatriz. 2006. Voting for Autocracy: Hegemonic Party Survival and Its Demise in Mexico. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.