A Political Economy Perspective on North Africa’s Transitions

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Series Details WP 3/2013
Publication Date 30/01/2013
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Following the Arab Spring, Egypt and Tunisia are undergoing very difficult economic situations that risk affecting the economic viability of their political transitions. Meanwhile, both Morocco and Algeria have experienced rioting and there is growing uncertainty as to how economic policies might evolve in the future. This is especially so in Morocco, where tough economic decisions are almost as urgent as in Tunisia and Egypt. Libya faces the distinct challenge of managing its resource wealth from a ground-zero institutional setting. Mauritania is following a different political economy path and will therefore not be analysed here. From the point of view of political economy, a crucial point is whether the wave of popular revolts that overthrew the incumbent regimes will consolidate into economically-viable liberal democracies, and in what economic direction Algeria and Morocco will move, since to date they have been spared regime changes with a high budgetary cost. In other words, the question is whether democratisation can be maintained (or continue to be pursued) under current political economy conditions –meaning by that the full array of economic structures, institutions, interests and preferences of the various players in society–.

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