Chapter

Political Opposition and Arab Authoritarianism

Holger Albrecht

in Contentious Politics in the Middle East

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780813034744
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039077 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813034744.003.0002
Political Opposition and Arab Authoritarianism

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It may seem a bit precarious to apply terms such as political participation, representation, and political opposition to Middle Eastern politics. There are both phenomenological and conceptual arguments in favor of the traveling and application of concepts to authoritarian settings. This chapter compares the major differences between democracy and authoritarianism with regard to opportunities and limitations of opposition. It then focuses particularly on political opposition in the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Despite substantial restrictions, liberalized authoritarian regimes do grant opposition forces—including regime-loyal, tolerated, and antisystem opposition—some opportunities for political activism. The emergence of these forms of opposition does not necessarily constitute a threat to the incumbents but may rather contribute to the stabilization of a liberalized, inclusivist type of authoritarianism.

Keywords: political participation; representation; political opposition; Middle Eastern politics; democracy; authoritarianism

Chapter.  7285 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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