Elites and Arab Politics: New Perspectives on Popular Protest, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Elites and Arab Politics

New Perspectives on Popular Protest, 1st Edition

By Ian Kelly


272 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138341203
pub: 2020-07-10
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This work explains elite behaviour in authoritarian systems and proposes why elites withdraw their support for the incumbent when faced with popular uprisings. Building upon foundations drawn from institutional authoritarianism and synthesised with local context from the substantial scholarship on the Middle East and North Africa, the book argues that the elite supporting autocrats come from three distinct cadres: the military, the single-party and the personalist.

Each of these cadres possesses its own distinct institutional interests and preferences towards regime change. Drawing on these interests, the study constructs a theoretical framework that is assessed through testing it against three variables. Utilising an analytic narrative, the research finds that the withdrawal of elite support is the consequence of long-term processes that see distinct cadres marginalised. First, increased incumbent preference for personalist elements destabilises regimes as the military and single-party cadres reconsider their position. Second, neoliberal economic policies, implement via structural adjustment accelerated this personalisation as the state’s withdrawal from the economy. This, in turn, affected the ability of the military and single-party elites to access patronage. Finally, the degree of military involvement in the formal political sphere contributes to shaping the nature of the system that replaced the incumbent regime under examination.

Building upon a wide range of literature the book argues that interest realisation determines whether or not elite actors support regime change in authoritarian systems. The volume will be of interest to scholars researching politics, social sciences and the Middle East.

Table of Contents

1. Regime Change in the Middle East and North Africa: Moving Beyond Immediate Explanations

2. The Theory: Elites and Regime Change in the Middle East and North Africa

3. Explaining Regime Change: Incorporating Elite Interests

4. Endogenous Interest Realisation within the Tunisian Elite: The Narrowing of the Regime

5. Exogenous Interest Realisation in Ben Ali’s Tunisia

6. Endogenous Interest Realisation within the Egyptian Elite: A Fragmented Regime

7. Exogenous Interest Realisation within the Egyptian Elite

8. Conclusion

About the Author

Ian Kelly is an Irish diplomat currently serving as the Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Ireland in Oslo. Before entering public service he was a post-doctoral fellow at Dublin City University where he also obtained his PhD.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern Democratization and Government

This series examines new ways of understanding democratization and government in the Middle East. The varied and uneven processes of change, occurring in the Middle Eastern region, can no longer be read and interpreted solely through the prism of Euro-American transitology. Seeking to frame critical parameters in light of these new horizons, this series instigates reinterpretations of democracy and propagates formerly ‘subaltern,’ narratives of democratization. Reinvigorating discussion on how Arab and Middle Eastern peoples and societies seek good government, Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern Democratization and Government provides tests and contests of old and new assumptions.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / Comparative
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies