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Social Currents in North AfricaCulture and Governance after the Arab Spring$
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Osama Abi-Mershed

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190876036

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190876036.001.0001

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Islamist Parties and Transformation in Tunisia and Morocco

Islamist Parties and Transformation in Tunisia and Morocco

(p.11) 2 Islamist Parties and Transformation in Tunisia and Morocco
Social Currents in North Africa

Francesco Cavatorta

Fabio Merone

Oxford University Press

This chapter surveys the most important debates generated by these research agendas, and argues that, despite some impressive contributions, their focus remains generally limited to certain aspects of Islamist politics. Specifically, post-2011 research agendas continue to dismiss the relevance of party politics due to the longstanding belief—quite justified in most cases—that parties in the Middle East and particularly in North Africa are insignificant political actors. In light of the events of 2011, however, it is necessary to examine party politics more closely, especially the ideologically driven Islamist parties that often hold the key to the success or failure of regime change in the region. Scrutinizing Islamist parties can reveal critical social, political, generational, and ideological factors affecting Islamism as a whole, including the Salafi trend. More specifically, scholars must overcome their tendency to overlook the profound diversity, fragmentation, and tensions that exist within Islamism proper. Such diversity plays a role not only in the political institutional arena (i.e., electoral competition between different Islamist parties), but also in social domains, where there are heated ideological debates and diverse instances and forms of activism within the Islamist sphere that many observers have yet to fully grasp and analyze. Finally, the chapter points to the seeming paradox of the thesis of post-Islamism, which in some ways has been confirmed rather than challenged by the arrival of the Moroccan Party for Justice and Development (PJD) and the Tunisian Ennahda to power.

Keywords:   Islamist Parties, Arab Spring, post-Islamism, Ennahda, Salafi, Party for Justice and Development (PJD), Tunisia, Morocco

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