Patriarchal Authoritarianism in MENA – What Explains Its Durability?

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Valentine MOGHADAM, Northeastern University, USA
In the early part of the new century, Turkey appeared to be on course toward an “Islamic democracy” characterized by citizen participation through fair and free elections, and legal and policy reforms for women’s rights and human rights. A decade later, that course was derailed, with a form of patriarchal authoritarianism now entrenched. In Egypt, aspirations for a robust and women-friendly democratic transition following its January 2011 political revolution were similarly dashed, first by the policies of the Morsi government and then the post-2013 Sisi government. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, patriarchal authoritarianism remains in place since 1979, despite regular elections and certain socio-political changes over time. What explains the durability of such (gendered) regimes? What blocks effective democratization? The paper will examine international factors and forces, and the nature and capacity of both political society and civil society. Some references to the more successful democratic transition in Tunisia will highlight the salience of these explanatory factors. At the same time, it appears that a strong role for religion in politics and in society does seem to go hand-in-hand with the persistence of authoritarian tendencies, especially in MENA.