1st Edition

Political Parties in Post-Uprising Tunisia and Morocco Organization, Development and Legitimation

By Giulia Cimini Copyright 2023
    236 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book offers a comparative, theory-grounded study of Maghrebi political parties since the Arab uprisings, specifically focused on Tunisia and Morocco in the first decade after the 2011 watershed elections.

    Based on primary sources, including in-depth interviews and updated party statutes and bylaws, the author introduces four case studies of key Islamist and anti-Islamist parties, exploring their organisational standing, internal working, and legitimating assets. By dwelling into a topic long neglected, the author provides insight into the "hybrid" nature of political parties in the Maghreb, oscillating between juxtaposed traditional and modern discourses and ambivalent sources of political authority. As such, it is hybridisation that shapes parties’ organisational choices and development and accounts for differences within parties. In the wake of political liberalisation, the author argues that political parties have become increasingly distant from society, distrusted by a large part of the citizenry. Ultimately, the Tunisian and Moroccan cases invite reflection on similar phenomena taking place within the Middle East and North Africa region, and even outside of it.

    Bridging disparate disciplines, including comparative politics, area studies, and contemporary Middle Eastern history, the book will be of interest to a broad range of graduate-level students and academics.

    Introduction  1. Disentangling Political Parties in the Maghreb  2. Political Parties in Post-revolutionary Tunisia and Morocco  3. Political Parties and Elections in Post-2011 Tunisia and Morocco: Dynamics of Electoral Competitions  4. Tunisian Parties from Within  5. Moroccan Parties from Within  6. Conclusion


    Giulia Cimini is a Junior Assistant Professor in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Bologna and a Gerda Henkel Research Fellow. Her research focuses on political parties, security assistance, and environmentalism in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, focusing on Tunisia and Morocco. She co-edited Political Islam Inside-Out (Routledge 2022) and has published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Contemporary Politics, Middle Eastern Studies, and the Journal of North African Studies.

    "Giulia Cimini’s book gives us a thorough, clear and well-informed account of what has been happening in the political Maghreb since the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011. Her study of Maghrebi political parties is both theoretical and empirical. The author does not limit her analysis to the available documentation; she has lived in the countries concerned and has met dozens of stakeholders and researchers. She therefore goes beyond appearances to make us experience the reality of the field. In a pleasant style that does not dwell on ephemeral details and avoids hermetic jargon, she offers us a masterpiece."

    Maati Monjib, Professor of Political History, University Mohammed V. Rabat, Morocco

    "This major contribution to the study of political parties systematically compares Islamist and establishment parties in post-Uprising Tunisia and Morocco. The consequences of parties’ varying mixes of modern and traditional political practices at the national and grassroots levels are examined for their impact on parties’ legitimacy and representativeness.The product of extensive field research including a large number of documents and interviews, the study masterfully situates deep area specific knowledge within comparative political science debates over parties’ global level evolution."

    Raymond Hinnebusch, Professor of International Relations and Middle East Politics, University of St. Andrews, Scotland

    "This is a most relevant contribution to the study of political parties in the Arab world, an oft-neglected topic in the literature. Focusing on Tunisia and Morocco, the author offers a theoretically sophisticated and empirically solid analysis of party systems and parties in the midst of considerable institutional changes."

    Francesco Cavatorta, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

    "This is a fantastic feat of a book, which has been a long time under way. Cimini has painstakingly conducted research in Morocco and Tunisia over an 8-year period, resulting in a book that is rich with original data that sheds new light on the topic. Furthermore, the analysis is grounded in the classic party politics literature, which the author engages eloquently with throughout the book, and it thus avoids a common pitfall of many an area studies book.  I applaud Cimini for this excellent piece of work, which I am sure will become a staple, not only in my own work, but also with my political science and Middle East studies students."

    Lise Storm, Associate Professor of Party Politics and Director of the Centre for Middle East Politics (C-MEP), University of Exeter, United Kingdom

    "For more than a decade, Middle Eastern literature has focused on democratic transition, its chances of success, and its predicaments. Giulia Cimini goes beyond redundant issues, with very few exceptions. Innovatively, in this account of post-uprising Tunisia and Morocco political parties take center stage. The book adopts a multidimensional approach and for the first time analyses the functioning of Arab parties through this lens, offering a comprehensive picture that includes the national leadership, the elected representatives and the grassroots level. A brilliant, bold and original retort to those who reduce politics in the Arab world to top-down pronouncements."

    Hamadi Redissi, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of Tunis, Tunisia