Panel 9

Panel 9 – Five Years After the Uprisings: “A Tale of High Hopes and Dashed Expectations”?
Stephanie Wheatley

Title: Microwave Democracy: The Perils of Fast-Tracking Democratic Transition in Post-Arab Spring Egypt

Abstract: By almost any historical measure, the speed at which Egypt attempted to transition from an authoritarian regime to democratic governance was unprecedented. In fact, as this paper will argue, the rapid attempt at democratization in Egypt in the aftermath of the Arab Spring played a vital role in the failure of that transition. Though laudable, the desire to hold elections and create a new and freely elected government in less than two years ignored a number of problems related to such a transition. Appealing to the literature on democratization, I will argue that democratic transition cannot be rushed. The processes involved in democratization are too complex and interconnected to be untangled and reformed in a short amount of time. These processes in Egypt include: economic reform; a reevaluation of civil-military relations as well as the entrenched economic posture of the Egyptian military; streamlining and retraining the security apparatus; a renewed commitment to the rule of law and checks on the power of the judiciary; and some form of rapprochement between Islamists and Salafists on the one hand and secular progressives on the other. I will address each of these issues and, in turn, discuss the ways in which each fell short of what is required for a successful democratic transition. Finally, I will apply my conclusions to the Arab Spring at large, addressing both the success of Tunisia relative to the processes of democratization and the challenges faced by Libya, Syria, and other states affected by the Arab Spring.

Bio: Dr. Stephanie Wheatley is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Political Science at Oklahoma State University. She completed her PhD in Religion, Politics, and Society from Baylor University in 2011. Her dissertation examined the applicability of moderation theory to Islamist groups. Dr. Wheatley’s research interests include democratization and the Arab Spring, the intersection of religion and politics and religion and violence, Islamism and Salafism, civil religion, and the sociology of religion. She has taught courses on the world’s religions, political thought, Middle Eastern politics, and the Arab Spring.

Arne F. Wackenhut

Title: Secular Social Movement Organizations in Egypt 4 Years After Mubarak: A Tale of High Hopes and Dashed Expectations

Abstract: January 25, 2015 marked the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the Egyptian revolution that toppled long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak after nearly 30 years in office. Drawing upon the political opportunity structure framework, and building upon the notion of both political opportunities and threats as factors influencing activists’ ability to mobilize, this paper takes stock of the ways in which the Egyptian political sphere has changed throughout the past four years. Rather than providing a detailed historical account of post-revolutionary politics, and building upon recent fieldwork in Cairo and semi-structured interviews with former and current activists, the paper focuses on a number of signature events, which are indicative of changes in the opportunity structure for pro-democracy movement organizations, which were at the forefront of the 2011 revolution. Ever since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, opportunities for successful large-scale mobilization have all but disappeared, while the repressive threat has increased to, if not beyond, pre-revolutionary levels.

Bio: Arne Wackenhut is a PhD student in Peace and Development Research at the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. His doctoral thesis tries to understand the diffusion of protest in the January 25 uprising of 2011. The field research informing this paper was generously supported by a travel grant of the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). The research visit to Cairo was hosted by Prof. Bahgat Korany of the American University in Cairo (AUC).

Claire Sadar

Title: Inclusion-Moderation Theory, Ideology and State Suppression: An Examination of Three Islamist Parties in their Institutional Context

Abstract: Islamist and post-Islamist parties more often than not have been unsuccessful in radically remaking illiberal political systems because they are as much a product of these systems as secular parties, particularly in the means and methods of governance. An examination of three Islamist parties in Indonesia, Morocco and Turkey demonstrates that the tendency of a political party to engage in democratic behavior, liberal behavior or illiberal behavior is best explained by the political history of the country in which it exists rather than its beliefs regarding the relationship between religion and politics. The AKP party in Turkey is a particularly important example as, over its thirteen years of existence, it has become significantly less moderate in its use of state suppression while only slightly less moderate in its ideology. These results predict that while it may undergo some additional ideological de-moderation, it is unlikely that the AKP will ever become a fully assertive Islamist party. When attempting to predict the trajectories and behavior of Islamist and post-Islamist parties, more studies need to be done comparing them with secular parties, using the standard rubrics and political theories. The Islamist ideology of the parties in question should only be brought in as a secondary consideration.

Bio: Claire Sadar earned her Master’s degree in Religion and Society with a focus on Islam in Turkey from Boston University in 2012. She writes regularly on Turkish politics and society and is a co- editor for the Iran, Iraq and Turkey section of the online magazine Muftah. Her work has also been published in Your Middle East and Foreign Affairs online.