Limiting change through change: do Middle East elections matter?


Algeria’s regime has shown a capacity to distribute political and economic resources in a controlled manner. This allows it to “create an appearance of change and pluralism that has allowed the regime to absorb social dissatisfaction, keep society in check, and strengthen the foundations of its rule,” notes Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck (above), a resident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. Her paper, titled “Limiting Change Through Change: The Key to the Algerian Regime’s Longevity,” examines the mechanisms the regime uses to maintain itself in power. As Ghanem-Yazbeck.

Elections in the Middle East

For much of its history, elections have meant little in the Middle East with authoritarian rulers performing the act without yielding any real power to their opponents. In the past two months, three countries in the Middle East; Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey held parliamentary elections, the Hoover Institution adds:

In Lebanon, parliamentary elections were held on May 6, with Prime Minister Saad Hariri the biggest loser, and Hezbollah’s hold on the country intact. In Iraq, parliamentary elections were held on May 12, with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr the surprise winner, the pro Iranian militias coming in second and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi scrambling to form a coalition.
In Turkey, President Recep Tayyib Erdogan has called for snap parliamentary elections on June 24, to coincide with the presidential elections in a move aimed at cementing his increasingly authoritarian rule.

Do elections matter in the Middle East? How should we understand the three elections? And how should Washington react to the results? On July 10th, the Hoover Institution will host a panel discussion with speakers:

Samuel Tadros, Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Middle Eastern Studies at the Hoover Institution, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and a Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

Hussain Abdul-Hussain, the Washington Bureau Chief of Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai. His beat includes Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and the US foreign policy toward these countries. Hussain has worked as a Visiting Fellow with Chatham House, London.

Dr. Aykan Erdemir, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is a former member of the Turkish Parliament (2011-2015). Dr. Erdemir is the editor of seven books on Turkey, terrorism, and tolerance.

Hanin Ghaddar, the inaugural Friedmann Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute’s Geduld Program on Arab Politics, where she focuses on Shia politics throughout the Levant. Prior to that she was the longtime managing editor of Lebanon’s NOW news website.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

12:00 PM – 12:15 PM – Registration/ Lunch

12:15 to 1:30 PM – Panel Discussion


Hoover Institution

1399 New York Avenue, NW

Suite 500

Washington, DC 20005

Register Now

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