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Political Change in the Middle East and North AfricaAfter the Arab Spring$
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Inmaculada Szmolka

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474415286

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474415286.001.0001

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Successful and failed transitions to democracy

Successful and failed transitions to democracy

(p.349) Chapter 15 Successful and failed transitions to democracy
Political Change in the Middle East and North Africa

Inmaculada Szmolka

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter studies the democratic transitions following the fall of the authoritarian rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. The chapter shows that the only successful democratisation occurred in Tunisia thanks to agreements between political actors, concessions from a dominant party and a strong and participative civil society. On the contrary, despite the Egyptian transition taking place in a similar scenario of polarisation between Islamist and secular parties as in Tunisia, Egyptian transition failed because of a lack of agreement between political forces, an exclusionary process led by the Islamists, and the interference of the army in political affairs. Democratic transition also failed in Libya, due to the lack of prior institutional architecture and of experience of party participation and political groups. Finally, the model of democratic transition that was carried out in Yemen was favourable to the achievement of democracy. It sought a broad social and political consensus for the new state before holding elections and approving a constitution, and had the involvement of the international community in the design and implementation of the transitional road map. However, empowerment of old regime elites in the transition process, the exclusion of revolutionary movements, the lack of consensus to satisfy the demands of the independence movement in the south, and antagonism between political forces and their regional backers have doomed the democratic transition to failure.

Keywords:   Democratisation, Political transitions, Arab Spring and Post-Arab Spring, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen

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