The State, Democracy, and Development

Nadia Ramsis Farah

in Egypt's Political Economy

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9789774162176
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970337 | DOI:
The State, Democracy, and Development

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This chapter examines the interrelationships between democracy and development. A new politicist trend in social sciences maintains that development is contingent on the existence of a prior democratic system. Traditional modernization and Marxist theories, on the other hand, have argued that a certain degree of development is a precondition to political liberalization. The chapter rejects these causal explanations of political liberalization. Political liberalization is, rather, the outcome of power relations between factions of elites, or between national and foreign elites. The history of parliamentarism in Egypt supports this assertion. When Khedive Isma'il attempted to resist foreign intervention in Egypt in the 1870s, he allied himself with the members of the Assembly of Delegates, established in 1866, to regain his independence from European powers. While the Assembly of Delegates had limited powers, its members refused the decree to abolish the Assembly issued by Isma'il in 1879 under pressure from the foreign creditors. On the other hand, the early 1970s witnessed intense competition between factions of the bureaucratic elites, which emerged during the 1960s within the confines of the Nasserist state. The resulting intense power conflict was resolved through an internal coup d'état in May 1971, when Anwar Sadat eliminated the pro-Nasserist bureaucratic elites through arrests and lengthy periods of imprisonment.

Keywords: democracy; development; political liberalization; power relations; parliamentarism

Chapter.  13171 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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