Political regimes of the Middle East and North Africa

Authored by: Oliver Schlumberger

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:


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This chapter charts the evolution of MENA regimes. They initially took opposing forms, the traditional monarchies and revolutionary (populist authoritarian) republics, with different forms of legitimacy, divergent socio-economic policies and foreign policy alignments on opposite sides of the Cold War. In time, however, they converged as ideological and legitimacy differences declined; as patrimonial practices spread, as economic liberalization in the republics was paralleled by expanding oil-financed public sectors in the monarchies, and as both began to rely on rent and foster privileged crony capitalist classes. The causes of authoritarian resilience included the special durability of neo-patrimonial political practices congruent with both patriarchal societies and rentierist economies, all diluting class loyalties in favour of clientele ones. The Uprising led to some divergence, e.g. between democratization in Tunisia and harder authoritarianism in Egypt and state failure elsewhere. But authoritarian persistence continues.

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