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The “Chicken and Egg” Problem of Relevance: Political Parties and Parliaments in North Africa

Völkel, Jan Claudius (2020) The 'chicken and egg' problem of relevance: Political parties and parliaments in North Africa
Völkel, Dr. Jan Claudius (2020): „The “Chicken and Egg” Problem of Relevance: Political Parties and Parliaments in North Africa“, in: The Journal of North African Studies, 25 (6), 865-880.
peer reviewed
After decades of irrelevance, the 2011 regime changes in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia stimulated hope that political parties would eventually strengthen their importance across North Africa, as in the projected future democracies the varieties of opinions across the citizenries were expected to be needed represented better in the political processes. Local as well as international organisations engaged in tailormade programmes for the setup and support of democratic and inclusive political parties. However, apart from notably Tunisia, no visible strengthening of democratic parties has occurred so far. While this failure has many reasons, this article argues that a core problem for higher relevance of political parties in North Africa is the lack of sufficient arenas for their activism, resulting in particular from the weakness of parliaments. As long as no relevant legislatures exist, the article claims, no adequately democratic, and effective, parties can be created. Yet, the relation between parliaments and parties is not a one-way road, as also the other relation is important: as long as parties remain irrelevant, parliaments will not be able to grow into meaningful loci of politics either. Hence, the paper problematises the fundamental ‘chicken and egg’ question for the analysis of the mutual interdependence of political parties and parliaments in North Africa. After a thorough assessment of both institutions’ current shortcomings, it will trace ways to strengthen the relevance of both, political parties and parliaments, and show that both endeavours bear the chance of lasting success only if conducted in parallel.
Date of publication:
Forschungsbereich: Contested Governance
Language: English
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