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Getting to Pluralism

Getting to Pluralism: Political Actors in the Arab World

Marina Ottaway
Amr Hamzawy
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 160
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wpk17
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  • Book Info
    Getting to Pluralism
    Book Description:

    Pluralism in the Arab world has not yet matured into functional democratic politics. While ruling establishments, Islamist movements, and secular parties have introduced a much greater degree of pluralism into Arab societies, the imbalance of power and interdependence among these actors limits both the degree of political diversity and its effectiveness at bringing about reforms. The Arab world is likely to grapple with political apathy, low voter turnout, dwindling membership in registered parties, and shrinking constituencies for the foreseeable future. Even the Islamists, who demonstrated great ability to organize and gain followers in the past, have begun showing signs of decreasing popularity.

    Getting to Pluralism: Political Actors in the Arab Worldexplores the balance of power between the disparate political forces of the Arab world. The essays in this volume examine the characteristics of the major political actors in great detail and assess the weaknesses of the secular parties. They also illustrate the complexities of Islamist participation in the political processes of several Arab countries -pointing out both similarities and differences. Finally, the authors evaluate how incumbent Arab regimes have been able to maintain their grip on power in spite of their claims that they support political and social reform.

    eISBN: 978-0-87003-275-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. v-vi)
    Amr Hamzawy and Marina Ottaway
  4. FOREWORD
    (pp. vii-viii)

    Since its founding half a dozen years ago, the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East Program has made political change in the Arab world the central focus of its work. As though turning a microscope lens to higher and higher magnification, scholars in Washington, D.C., and at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon, focused first on political change and democracy promotion in historical and broadly comparative terms, examining conditions and trends in the Middle East as compared to the rest of the world. They then analyzed the implications for governments outside the region that wish to support political liberalization. More...

  5. INTRODUCTION: Pluralist Politics in Undemocratic Political Systems
    (pp. 1-12)
    MARINA OTTAWAY and AMR HAMZAWY

    The political process in Arab countries where there is a legal political life is dominated by three sets of political actors: the incumbent regimes or ruling establishments; the secular parties, that is, parties that do not find their ideological inspiration in Islam but embrace liberal or leftist ideas; and the Islamist movements that have renounced violence and decided to participate in the legal politics of their respective countries. The balance of power among these parties and the dynamics of their relationship have determined the trajectory of political change in the Arab world over the past two decades. The fact that...

  6. CHAPTER 1 INCUMBENT REGIMES AND THE “KING’S DILEMMA” IN THE ARAB WORLD: Promise and Threat of managed Reform
    (pp. 13-40)
    MICHELE DUNNE and MARINA OTTAWAY

    Incumbent regimes in the Arab world, monarchical and republican alike, have weathered the period of intense, worldwide political change that has followed the end of the Cold War without giving up much of their power. Though not completely untouched by events that have shaken the rest of the world, most Arab regimes have survived relatively intact the wave of political transformation that has engulfed the rest of the world. Many regimes have carried out reforms, but the reforms have been directed at modernizing the economy and addressing social issues rather than redistributing power in the political system. Indeed, most regimes...

  7. CHAPTER 2 FIGHTING ON TWO FRONTS: Secular Parties in the Arab World
    (pp. 41-68)
    MARINA OTTAWAY and AMR HAMZAWY

    Secular parties in the Arab world—a broad range of political organizations that vary in their political orientation from liberal positions to vaguely socialist programs—are facing a crisis. Caught between regimes that allow little legal space for free political activity on one side and popular Islamist movements that are clearly in the ascendancy throughout the Arab world on the other, they are struggling for influence and relevance, and in some cases even for survival.

    Results of recent elections across the region have exposed the weaknesses of secular parties and thus created a new sense of urgency among their leaders...

  8. CHAPTER 3 ISLAMISTS IN POLITICS: The Dynamics of Participation
    (pp. 69-96)
    AMR HAMZAWY and MARINA OTTAWAY

    Islamist political parties and movements that have made the strategic choice to participate in the legal political process of their countries are, together with the ruling establishments, the most important political actors in Arab countries. These parties and movements, to which we will refer in the rest of this essay as participating Islamists, are also extremely complex. This complexity is due to their ongoing transformation in response to internal power struggles and to shifts in the manner in which they are allowed to participate.

    The conclusions of this essay are based mainly on an examination of participating Islamist parties in...

  9. CONCLUSION: Old Actors and New Arenas
    (pp. 97-108)
    AMR HAMZAWY and MARINA OTTAWAY

    The interplay of authoritarian ruling establishments, secular parties, and Islamist movements has dominated Arab politics throughout most of the past four decades. In countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, and Kuwait, the monarchical and republican ruling establishments have kept a firm grip over politics and systematically aborted the possibility of a more balanced distribution of power between them and Islamist and secular opposition groups. Increasingly since the 1990s, the majority of Islamist movements have joined secular parties in committing to participation in legal politics, depending primarily on electoral contestation at the national and local levels to advance their...

  10. INDEX
    (pp. 109-116)
  11. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 117-118)
  12. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    (pp. 119-120)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 121-121)