U NIVERSITI U M TARA ALAYSIAC OLLEGE OL G F AW, OVERNMENT &I NTERNATIONAL S TUDIES GFPP 3413 POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC RISK ANALISIS INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT AUTHORITARIANISM IN MIDDLE EAST AUTHORITARIAN ELECTION: EGYPT PREPARED BY; PRIDHIVRAJ NAIDU (127445)
1.0 I NTRODUCTION Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission toauthority. It is opposed to individualism and democracy1. In politics, an authoritariangovernment is one in which political power is concentrated in a leader or leaders, typicallyunelected by the people, who possess exclusive, unaccountable, and arbitrary power.Authoritarianism differs from totalitarianism in that social and economic institutions existthat are not under the governments control2 In the Middle East Authoritarianism, has been the way of governance in the previouseras. It has taken precedence over the other political systems due to the existence of powerhungry leaders as well as situations pertaining to unbalanced political circumstances. The existence of elections and parliaments also conveys a certain degree oflegitimacy to the outside world. Lewinsky and Way argue that following the collapse of theSoviet Union, a period of Western liberal hegemony began and that the costs associatedwith the maintenance of full-scale authoritarian institutions" rose considerably.3Authoritarians, it seems, would benefit from the establishment of institutions that appearedto be democratic to reap the benefits associated with liberalization. A number of scholarlyworks rest on the assumption or actively promote the idea that elections have the potentialto confer legitimacy to authoritarian and transitioning regimes in Africa (Moehler 2005,Mozaffar 2002), Central Asia (Schatz 2006), China (Heberer 2006), and more generally(Schedler 2002).1 Authoritarianism (politics) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia2 Shepard, Jon; Robert W. Greene (2007). Sociology and You. Ohio: Yin Chi Lo-Hill. pp. A–22.3 Levitsky, Steven and Lucan Way.(2003). Autocracy by Democratic Rules: The Dynamics of CompetitiveAuthoritarianism in the Post-Cold War Era. Working paper.
Primary argument of this paper is that the authoritarian regime in Egypt uses thehighly competitive electoral market as an indirect mechanism for the all location of rents oraccesses to rents both relatively scarce resources to members of Egypts broad elitecoalition. This argument complements but is distinct from the findings put forth by Lust-Okar(2006) who primarily focuses on the distributive benefits of elections from the non-eliteside4.2.0 H ISTORICAL B ACKGROUND Although elections took place in Egypt beginning in the late 1800s, historians haveidentified two significant periods of multi-party politics in the country5. The first wasfollowing the promulgation of the 1923 constitution after the British declared an end to theprotectorate and Egypt became an independent state. The second is the period which beganin 1977 under Sadat and continues up until today. The following section considers theconditions under which multiparty politics were first introduced under Sadat. After that Idescribe the reasons why Mubarak continued to hold multiparty parliamentary electionsfollowing Sadats assassination.4 Lust-Okar, Ellen. (2006). Elections under Authoritarianism. Preliminary Lessons from Jordan. Democratization.5 Beaties, (2000). Egypt During the Sadat Years. New York: Palgrave.
3.0 S ADAT & M ULTIPARTY E LECTIONS Early in 1976, then-President Anwar Sadatconvened a committee to discuss political reform; byMarch 1976 three platforms | which eventually becameparties | were allowed to emerge from this discussionthat formed the basis for competitive ‘multipartyism’ inEgypt. Importantly, independent candidacy was alsoallowed, creating opportunities for individuals withoutparty affiliation to run for once. There exists only limited consensus in the previous literature regarding why Sadatchose to implement competitive multi-party parliamentary elections in 1976. Two primarylines of reasoning are put forward though most scholars acknowledge the influence ofmultiple factors in the decision. A first line of reasoning emphasizes domestic politicalconsiderations and Sadats desire to accommodate conservative elite preferences for greaterpolitical expression. As Sadat sought to move beyond the leftist bases of support enjoyed byNasser, he turned increasingly to politicians on the right | who supported a more liberalpolitical environment | as the base of his support. A second line of reasoning focuses onexternal factors. Proponents of this theory argue that in order to effectively make thetransition from the Soviet orbit of influence to becoming an ally of the US, Sadat introduceda more liberal political system. When asked today about this period, Egyptian politicians and political analysts tendto emphasize the importance of external influences on the decision to hold multi-partyelections, though they are quick to point out that external factors do not influence the
political behavior of the president unless the president expects to receive some domesticutility" from the decision.10 In other words, when external pressure is coupled with anopportunity to improve a domestic political situation policy change can occur. As a resultexternal influence is subject to strict agenda control of the authoritarian regime. Somewestern academics have also focused on foreign influences and Sadats reorientation towardthe West. McDermott writes that Sadat had in mind a European and Western audience inthis particular exercise...he was conscious of wanting to show the world that Israel did nothave the monopoly of multi-party systems"6. Beattie has also argued that being in theAmerican camp was critical to Sadats wider7 plan and that much of Sadats motivation camefrom wishing to please the West"8.The weight of historical studies of this decision by both Western and Egyptian scholars,however, tends to focus on important domestic considerations, particularly a desire tomanage the ideological preferences of various elite actors and groups. In particular, Sadatwas seen as courting right-leaning elements of society in an effort to balance leftist rivals forpower. In 1974 Sadat introduced the open-door economic policy, which empowered Egyptsbourgeoisie; Sadat viewed this group as a friendly force" and accommodated their demandsand ordered them privileged access to power. This group of bureaucratic and private-sectorelite ordered the best source of strategic support for Sadat as he sought to consolidatepower9.6 McDermott, Anthony. (1988). Egypt from Nasser to Mubarak: A Flawed Revolution. London:Croom Helm.7 Beaties, (2000). Egypt During the Sadat Years. New York: Palgrave, p.888 Beaties, (2000). Egypt During the Sadat Years. New York: Palgrave, p.2239 Abdelrahman, Maha M. (2004). Civil Society Exposed: The Politics of NGOs in Egypt. Cairo:American University in Cairo Press.
The shift toward economic liberalization has been viewed as a benefit to theentrepreneurial class, signaling an end to ‘Nasserism’10. Cooper sees external and exogenous crises as precipitating Sadats move towardliberalization but the impetus for liberalization as largely domestic. He writes, In brief, thepressure on the regime and the particular way that interests were juxtaposed, especially inthe tension filled months after the June 1967 defeat and the death of Nasser in September1970, pushed toward liberalization"11. The goal, therefore, was to build consensus aroundspecific policy objective; since Sadat was not able to improve the material condition of mostEgyptians, he instead focused on defeating Nassers totalitarianism. Waterbury emphasizedthe informational aspects of holding elections. He writes that Sadat was willing to sacrificesome of the control that obsessed Nasser in order to see more clearly the forces thatwarranted control’. The elections, therefore, were introduced during a time when there still existed fairlyclear ideological distinctions between two important factions of Egypts political elite,though these ideological differences may have been strongly motivated by pragmatic (ratherthan programmatic) concerns. The move toward elections was seen as a shift in favor ofright leaning and business-oriented elements of this political class. It is this class, in fact, thatcontinues to dominate Egyptian elite today. While the importance of external factorsparticularly the desire to court the West cannot be ignored, the decision to hold electionswas rooted, at least to some extent, in a desire to manage the countrys political elite.10 El-Mikaway, Noha. (1999). The Building of Consensus in Egypts Transition Process. Cairo:American University in Cairo Press.11 Cooper, Mark N. (1982). The Transformation of Egypt. London: Croom Helm.
In the following section, I argue that once the right-leaning business elite came toenjoy a dominant position, the nature of intra-elite conflict became increasingly focused onthe distribution of resources (and access to resources) within a single class ofentrepreneurial elite and that this tendency was exacerbated by the increased opportunitiesfor private-wealth accumulation that accompanied structural adjustment.4.0 E LECTIONS IT M N HE UBARAK E RA Minimal policy change was evident following theassassination of Sadat12. Hinnebusch describes theMubarak era as one of continuity during which theinitiatives introduced by Sadat crystallized"; the mostimportant of these legacies included the open-dooreconomic policy and subsequent growth of a newbourgeoisie as well as the massive dependence on the US.Part of this legacy included the multi-party parliamentary elections that Sadat Firstintroduced. Early on, Mubarak signaled some continued commitment to pluralism;opposition candidates competing in two by-elections held in the early 1980s conceded thatthe elections were run fairly13. Political elite on the right intensified their demands forpluralism during this period . The Wafd won a lawsuit in 1983 allowing the party to contestthe 1984 election; together in coalition with the Muslim Brothers the Wafd MB alliance won58 seats and 15 percent of the total vote.12 In fact, Ayubi has suggested that the real"12 Dawisha, Adeed and I. William Zartman, editors. (1988). Beyond Coercion: The Durabilityof the Arab State. London: Croom Helm.13 McDermott, Anthony. 1988. Egypt from Nasser to Mubarak: A Flawed Revolution. London:Croom Helm, p.77
Mubarak era began in 1984 with this hotly contested parliamentary election, which wasconsidered by many to have been fairly-run. Springborg posits a number of possible hypotheses to this question withoutcommitting fully to a particular answer14. First, he suggests that perhaps the presidentlacked the power to reverse the process that Sadat began of deconstructing Nasserspolitical legacy. A second explanation is that Mubarak implemented greater politicalpluralism as a counterweight to tightening economic conditions where pluralism would serveas a political safety valve for economic discontent. While Springborg does not o®er anunequivocal answer his strongest support seems to be behind the theory that Mubarakinherited an NDP that served primarily as a vehicle for the interests of the Sadatist andbusiness-oriented elements (1989, 157) and that this group may have been easy to mobilizesince it would not involve expanding the base of the party. The 1984 elections eliminated theleft and gave the regime an opposition from the right (Zartman 1988, 76). Over time, itwould be this challenge from first an alliance of the Wafd and Muslim Brotherhood, andincreasingly from just the Muslim Brotherhood, that would become the relevant, ideologicalsplit in the elite. The business-oriented elite came to be the base of the Mubarak regime and keepingthis class of individuals in tacit alliance with the authoritarian leadership became the key tocontinued stability. My argument in this and the following sections is that following Sadats decision tosupport right-leaning elements of the party in the 1970s, that these business-orientedelements of society came to dominate the political elite in Egypt and to a large extent still14 Springborg, Robert. 1989. Mubaraks Egypt: Fragmentation of the Political Order. Boulder:Westview Press.
dominate Egypt today. In the words of one Egyptian commentator, what emerged was anatural alliance between the regime and the bourgeoisie."13 During the Mubarak era,therefore, the regimes focus was not on whether elections would occur but rather on thevarious tools and tactics the regime could employ to manage those elections. In fact,Soliman writes that the great change was seen in terms of the mechanisms for controllingelections not over the question of whether or not elections would be held (2006). Anauthoritarian leadership with surprisingly free and fair competitive parliamentary elections,therefore, has turned out to be a remarkably stable formulation. This is in contrast toarguments by Huntington (1991) and others who have written that liberalizedauthoritarianism is not a stable equilibrium. Elections serve a number of important functionsthat are primarily related to the issue of elite management, regarding both once seekers aswell as party apparatchik. In the following section, I develop a functional logic ofauthoritarian elections in Egypt that focuses on elite management.C ONCLUSION In conclusion I can say that Anwar Sadat and Mubarak in their own ways have settledon having a democratic authoritarian rule. The differences are on the reason why they optedto this method of administration when they can very well just allow an administrationwithout the say of neither the people nor any other bodies.