Political parties in the Middle East

Authored by: Lise Storm

The Routledge Handbook to the Middle East and North African State and States System

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367358877
eBook ISBN: 9780429342486
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429342486-10

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Abstract

In an authoritarian context, parties are less powerful than in democracies, but they have still played a role both in political change and in stabilizing regimes in MENA. In the period prior to independence, the mobilization of the population by nationalist parties was a decisive factor in making colonial rule too costly. The post-independence explosion in parties gave way to single-party states. After the global Third Wave of democratization, MENA had controlled multi-party systems under electoral authoritarianism, with opposition parties co-opted in return for limited access to power. During this period, the main cleavage, which rulers exploited, became that between Islamist and secular or minority-dominated parties. Where the Uprising initiated democratic transition, new space was opened up for parties. Islamist parties proved the best vote-getters, reflective of the popular perception of them as a break with the old regime and also owing to their superior organization compared to secular rivals.

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