Panel 3a. The Arab Spring to Arab Winter: explaining the limits of post-Uprising Democratization

Chair: Ewan Stein

Explaining post-Uprising trajectories: starting points, agency and emergent variable regimes
Raymond Hinnebusch, University of St Andrews

This paper sketches a framework for explaining the divergent trajectories taken by post Arab Uprising states in terms of multiple variables, each illustrated by an iconic case, namely: State Failure and Competitive governance (Syria), Regime Restoration and Hybrid Governance (Egypt) and Polyarchic Governance (Tunisia). Factors include the starting point: levels of opposition mobilization and regimes’ resilience–a function of their patrimonial-bureaucratic balance; whether or not a transition coalition forms is crucial for democratization prospects. Context also matters for democratization, particularly political economic factors, such as a balance of class power and a productive economy; political culture (level of societal identity cleavages) and a minimum of international intervention. Finally, the balance of agency between democracy movements, Islamists, the military and workers shapes democratization prospects.

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Social Movements, Protest Movements and Cross-Ideological Coalitions – the Arab Uprisings Re-appraised
Vincent Durac, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

This article explores the utility of social movement theory, reviewing conceptual developments and its application to Middle East cases before examining its relevance to the Arab Uprising. The initial youth-led new social movements were non-ideological, leaderless and lacking in clear organizational structures. As the protest movements spread, they grew to encompass a diverse array of other movements and actors: The breadth and diversity of these coalitions made the successful achievement of their core demands for regime change possible. However, the persistence of ideological cleavages within them made agreement on the post-regime change political order near impossible.

Islamism and the state after the Arab uprisings: Between people power and state power
Frédéric Volpi, School of International relations, University of St. Andrews

This paper examines the trajectories of different Islamist trends in the light of the Arab uprisings. It proposes a distinction between statist and non-statist Islamism to help understand the multiplicity of interactions between Islamists and the state, particularly after 2011. It is outlined how statist Islamists (Islamist parties principally) can contribute to the stabilization and democratization of the state when their interactions with other social and political actors facilitate consensus building in national politics. By contrast when these interactions are conflictual, it has a detrimental impact on both the statist Islamists, and the possibility of democratic politics at the national level. Non statist-Islamists (from quietist salafi to armed jihadi) who prioritize the religious community over national politics are directly impacted by the interactions between statist Islamists and the state, and generally tend to benefit from the failure to build a consensus over democratic national politics. Far more than nationally-grounded statist Islamists, non-statist Islamists shape and are shaped by the regional dynamics on the Arab uprisings and the international and transnational relations between the different countries and conflict areas of the Middle East. The Arab uprisings and their aftermath reshaped pre-existing national and international dynamics of confrontation and collaboration between Islamists and the state, and between statist and non-statists Islamists, for better (e.g. Tunisia) and for worse (e.g. Egypt).

Back to the Future: The Arab Uprisings and state (re) formation in the Arab World
Adham Saouli, University of St. Andrews

This article contributes to debates that aim to go beyond the ‘democratisation’ and ‘post-democratisation’ paradigms to understand change and continuity in Arab politics. In tune with calls to focus on the actualities of political dynamics, the article shows that the literatures on State Formation and Contentious Politics provide useful theoretical tools to understand change/continuity in Arab politics. It does so by examining the impact of the latest Arab Uprisings on state formation trajectories in Iraq and Syria. The Uprisings have aggravated a process of regime erosion—which originated in post-colonial state-building attempts—by mobilising sectarian and ethnic identities and exposing the counties to geo-political rivalries and intervention, giving rise to trans-border movements, such as ISIS. The resulting state fragmentation has obstructed democratic transition in Syria and constrained its consolidation in Iraq.

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