21 février 2017

What Prospects for the Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa?

Since 2011, democratic transitions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have mostly failed to consolidate. Yet, newly established governments must deliver on the expectations of their people, especially the poorer strata, otherwise disillusionment may open the door to restoration of authoritarian rule. Combining Economic and Political Development: The Experience of MENA, the new special issue of International Development Policy, explores the tensions embedded in economic and political development processes in the Middle East and North Africa.

Can democracy succeed? This is one of the key questions that ten scholars and policymakers from the region and beyond address in this issue edited by Giacomo Luciani, Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. By questioning the economic policies that were adopted in the post–Arab Spring context, they shed a critical light on the opportunities and obstacles involved in different policy options for consolidating the early democratisation process.

Giacomo Luciani, for instance, highlights an important paradox of development aid to the MENA region. Whereas the Arab uprisings stemmed from popular demands for better economic conditions and greater equality in the distribution of resources, the economic policies that were adopted in the aftermath of the uprisings are likely to increase socio-economic inequalities in the short term. They rely on the premise of the Washington Consensus, IMF structural adjustment plans and trade liberalisation measures which have already demonstrated their inefficiency in addressing the needs of the poorer.

The well-argued questioning of the doxa of economic and development policies that runs through this issue is aimed at an audience extending far beyond the MENA region. Based on a nuanced and empirically grounded analysis, the 11 contributions of Alissa Amico, Philippe Fargues, Bassam Fattouh, Steffen Hertog, Laura El-Katiri, Giacomo Luciani, Samir Makdisi, Adeel Malik, Bassem Snaije, Robert Springborg and Eckart Woertz will interest all stakeholders involved in the development of aid strategies.

  • The special issue is available in open access on the eJournal’s website and published in paper format by Brill – Nijhoff.