Revolution and Constitution-Making in the Arab World and Iran

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: Harbor Lounge B
Oral Presentation
Said ARJOMAND , Sociology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
Considering constitutions as the formalization of the political reconstruction and the establishment of new ruling bargains for regimes, constitution-making in the three countries where the Arab revolution of 2011 succeeded in toppling old regimes: Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The paper compares the pattern of constitutional politics in these countries as the struggle for the new political order among competing social and political groups and institutions that will entrench the emerging ruling bargains by making new constitutions. The comparisons are centered around four sets of variations: variation in the traditions of the rule of law and those in the character of the old states and the power structures sustaining them, a distinction between negotiated revolutions, where the old state persists and negotiate a new ruling bargain with the opposition, and the ones in which the state is destroyed and the revolutionary power struggle among competing groups determines the outcome of the revolutionary process. The mode of negotiation for the new ruling bargain differs considerably in the two cases. Tunisia and Egypt fall into the first category, Libya, in the second. The last comparisons concern the constitutional placement of Islam between Iran and its Islamic revolution and the 1979 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran,and the role of the Islamist parties in the constitutional politics of the Arab revolutions of 2011. The Iranian constitution was based on a clericalist Islamic ideology that made Islam the basis of the new political order and its constitution, whereas, with the passing of the age of ideology, Islam is proposed by the Arab Islamist parties in the suspended Egyptian Constitution of 2012 and in the Tunisian constitutional laws as a limitation on the legislative power of the state and not the basis of a new democratic political order.