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PoliTical And socioinstitutional change in NoRth AfrICA: competition of models and diversity of national trajectories

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TARICA (PoliTical And socioinstitutional change in NoRth AfrICA: competition of models and diversity of national trajectories)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-12-31

"The popular uprisings that shook several North African countries in 2011 and the subsequent socio-political changes have been variously interpreted: as a sign of the triumphant advance of the liberal democracy model, as a break with the patriarchal order and religious communitarianism, i.e. the spread of modern ideas, as a result of an ever deeper sense of injustice and the refutation of any form of exclusion or as a reactivation of the ""Islamic Renaissance"" model. A common feature of these different interpretations is that they are part of an approach in terms of the dissemination and circulation of models, whether these are models of political organization, of society, of social regulation or of development. Although the diffusionist schemes, whatever their kind, undermine the theory of Arab exceptionalism, they tend to deny the specificity of the processes, which were behind the uprisings, and the complexity of the dynamics of transformations underway in the countries concerned. These models also tend to overlook the ways in which actors within these countries negotiate their relationship to the global environment, and how they manipulate and redefine the reference models and normative repertoires, which guide their practices, especially standards of economic and political liberalism forged in the West.
In fact, the geopolitical picture of Northern Africa (from Morocco to Egypt), as it stands today, shows very different configurations. The wave of protests which, in some countries, led to the unexpected end of authoritarian rules has produced some effects that are specific to each State and has generated differentiated choices: from a ""negotiated"" political change (Morocco), to a national dialogue and successful electoral processes (Tunisia), to a brutal return to power of the military authority (Egypt) and to a civil war (Libya). These various situations refer back to the mobilization of actors, whose resources, interests and logics of action are very different. However, approaching the socio-political dynamics at work in the countries of the “Arab Spring” from the perspective of the circulation of models can be fruitful, providing that these models are analyzed not as perfect artifacts but as logics of action and reading grids that are mobilized, manipulated and appropriated by different actors: people and institutions, civil society organizations and State power. This is not only to be observed in the establishment of institutions and the implementation of policies, but also in the various forms of resistance these models are faced with and in the collective actions that contest them.
In this context, the research aims at analyzing the post “Arab Spring” dynamics of change in North Africa, both as part of a process of dissemination, confrontation and hybridization of various political and societal models, and as resulting from their appropriation and reinterpretation by social actors. Our objective is to grasp how various actors position themselves in the space opened up by the collapse or the calling into question of authoritarian regimes and to analyze their strategies in connection with the reference models and normative repertoires, which guide their actions. Our purpose is also to identify the factors and processes that make it possible (or prevent) the setting up of institutional arrangements able to manage social diversity, pluralism and conflicts, so as to avoid authoritarian restoration or civil war. Through this actor-centered approach, we seek to highlight the complex processes, which contribute to the diversity of the trajectories followed by five Northern African countries, directly or indirectly impacted by the “Arab revolts”, i.e. Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Libya, each of these countries, representing a real case study.
Drawing on a multidisciplinary and comparative approach, which also combines various levels of analysis, we explore these processes through three complementary thematic entries: (i) the reconfiguration of the political space and the changing forms of political regulation, (ii) the treatment of the past and the models of transitional justice, (iii) the models of development and of social justice.

The first research axis explores the political processes and conflicts surrounding the establishment of transitional institutions (Tunisia since 2011, Egypt until the military coup, Libya until the elections) or the reform of existing ones (Moroccan governmental reconciliation technology) and examines changing regulatory mechanisms (National dialogue, co-optation, involvement of various social and political actors, containment of protest movements). While investigating the phenomenon of restructuring or revamping of political elites, through the study of electoral processes and of the learning of political roles (parties, voters and media), we assess the ways in which the introduction of the fundamental elements of the model of liberal democracy has not resulted in a convergence of political regimes, but in a differentiated restructuring of political spaces and modes of regulation.
The second research axis seeks to understand how political and social actors relate to a transitional justice model considered as an instrument par excellence for recalling repression in order to avoid the repetition of abuses of the ""old regime"" and to repair the mistakes of the past. Through exploring the public management of the authoritarian past of overthrown regimes and related justice policies, we analyze the process of building the official memory and assess the extent to which promoters of transitional justice, in particular truth commissions inspired by the South African model, fulfil their function of reconciling victims and perpetrators and contribute to the construction of a national memory shared by all. We also undertake a sociological analysis of the promoters of transitional justices and study the interactions between their international promoters (ICTJ and UNDP) and local stakeholders involved in the process at national level.
In so far as the Arab spring is seen as the results of demands for dignity and social justice, the third research axis analyzes the processes that generate a growing feeling of injustice among the youth and people from marginalized territories, with the view to understand their impact on political legitimacy. We devote specific attention to protest movements and mobilizations calling for better employment opportunities and access to resources and basic services. Finally, we will look at the ways in which demands for social and spatial justice are translated (or not) in public policies (employment, decentralization, local governance) and assess the impacts of initiatives and projects supported by civil society actors, in terms of the promotion of local democracy and territorial development.
The originality of our project and its potential contribution to a break-through in the knowledge of post-Arab spring political, institutional and social change in Northern Africa lies in its analytical framework and methodological approach, which seek to capture the complex processes that shape the diversity of the trajectories followed by five Northern African countries after the 2011 Arab uprisings, through: (a) integrating their political, social, institutional and development related dimensions, (b) combining micro, meso and macro social levels of analysis and (c) articulating two kind of temporalities (related both to current dynamics of change and to the circulation of models embedded in a longer history), (d) comparing different national political and societal configurations, in order to identify the most interesting parameters that shape convergences or divergences in countries’ trajectories. Going beyond a normative tropism that has characterized diffusionist schemes of interpretation of Arab revolts, our approach is centered on actors’ discourse and practices and the ways which they make use of and reinterpret various political and societal models, in order to position themselves in the space opened up by the fall of the calling into question of authoritarian regimes. Our research therefore mobilizes an interdisciplinary approach associating a variety of expertise and of methodological tools. Specialists in political science, political sociology, development sociology, economics, geography and contemporary history compose our team of core-researchers. The originality of our research methodology lies also in the combination of qualitative and quantitative tools and analyses.
By integrating political, social, institutional and development related dimensions in the analysis of post- Arab revolts dynamics of change in North Africa and approaching these dynamics within a comparative perspective of actors’ reference models and practices, our project will make an important contribution to the understanding of the differentiated trajectories – and of the most important parameters that shape them- in the five countries under study. It is hoped that our project will help to overcome the biases attached to both culturalist and normative approaches of North African societies and political systems.
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"Since the launching seminar of the project in February 2017, research activities have advanced at a very sustained pace. In addition to the research seminars and scientific workshops that brought together members of the various working groups, several research operations have been launched.
Within the framework of research axis I, investigations have been carried out on: (1) The reconfiguration of partisan systems in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia and the integration of Islamist parties into the political game (2) Electoral processes and vote behavior (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria), (3) State reforms and decentralization processes (Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco).
1. Research on the reconfiguration of the political landscape highlights the consolidation of Islamist parties (Tunisia, Morocco, Libya), the phenomena of bipolarization between Islamist and secular currents (Tunisia, Libya), associated with the accentuation of regional and tribal divisions in Libya, the fragmentation of the political landscape (Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt) and the process of authoritarian restoration or the return in force on the political scene of the elites of the old system (Egypt, Tunisian). Research carried out on the strategies of political integration of Islamist political parties in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and in Egypt (Salafist parties) includes (i) a critical analysis of theoretical and conceptual approaches to the integration of Islamist parties into the political game (post-Islamic theory, inclusion-moderation theory) and (ii) empirical and localized studies to capture, beyond discourse, Islamist strategies and dynamics in the North African political arenas. Adopting a relational and comprehensive perspective, our analyses highlight the close links between Islamist partisan organizations and charitable or religious preaching associations and their role in the political integration strategies of Islamist parties. They also highlight the ""intersections"" between ""more radical"" religious movements and Islamist parties, as well as the ambivalence of the transformations of partisan Islam. Beyond the issue of “moderation”, our analysis highlights the pluralization of discourses, modes of action and models of mobilization of Islamist organizations (Ait Aoudia &Gana, 2018, Gana, Blanc, Sigillo, 2018, Blanc, 2018).
2. The second research component of axis 1 focuses on electoral processes and behaviors. It first consisted in a study of the partisan offer on the basis of an analytical grid developed jointly by the TARICA team (M. Ben Rebah, G. Van Hamme, C. Steuer), which makes it possible to identify and refine the divisions between political parties, beyond traditional classifications such as modernist/Islamist, left/right, etc. The process of analyzing the data collected is ongoing. Second it consisted in the setting up of a database of election results in four North African countries. The data collected at different spatial scales allow for the elaboration of electoral maps (also at different spatial scales) and a comparative and dynamic analysis of the socio-geography of the main political forces in the countries studied (Maher Ben Rebah, Gilles Van Hamme). Third, it has included the conduct of a survey on voting behavior and political supervision networks at the occasion of the local elections held in Algeria (B. Bezenine, V. Hamme) in November 2018 and in Tunisia (Gana & al.) in May 2018. In each country, the questionnaire survey covered a sample of more than 800 voters selected from different regions and was used to create a common database fThe data have been processed and analyzed and will form the basis of a collective work entitled local elections and territories in Tunisia and Algeria, which is currently being prepared. Other research operations falling within axis 1 are also underway. They look at state reforms in North Africa and more particularly at the reform of the media sector (E. Klaus), of justice (E. Gobe) and of security forces (Pluta, 2018).
Activities in axis 1 also included the organization of methodological workshops (electoral analysis), the participation to international conferences, the writing of articles and papers, the organization of a panel entitled “Islamist parties in the political game: the theory of ""inclusion-moderation"" revisited, for the Congress of Middle East and Muslim Worlds (MOMM) research network, in Paris in July 2019, the preparation of a dossier in the scientific journal Année du Maghreb entitled « L'intégration politique des organisations islamistes en question (s). La théorie de la modération revisitée ». https://journals.openedition.org/anneemaghreb/4342
Within the framework of axis II ""Memory conflicts and transitional justice"", supervised by E. Gobe, the research focuses on (i) historians in transitional justice and conflicts over historical narratives, (ii) the circulation of the transitional justice model at the Maghreb level (F. Vairel, M. Boumghar), (iii) a comparative analysis of the Truth and Dignity Instance in Tunisia and the Reconciliation and Equity Instance in Morocco (F.Vairel) and (iv), victims' mobilizations in Tunisia and Morocco (A. Belhadj, A. Gana, O. Deau). The activities of axis 2 also included the organization of workshops, the writing of 3 articles (Gobe, 2019, Gana, 2019, Belhadj, 2019) and the finalization of a book entitled, Transitional Justice and Ordinary Justice in North Africa, edited by Eric Gobe, in press with Karthala-IRMC.
Within the framework of axis III, the research covers two main themes: (1) Comparative analysis of development models in North Africa, (2) Mobilizations and collective action for the access to resources and a better living environment (Tunisia, Morocco).
1. Using the analytical grid of the regulationist and institutionalist approach, the objective of the first component is to characterize the diversity of development trajectories followed by North African countries, to depict their meso and macroeconomic dynamics and to identify emerging economic models in the studied countries. The methodology is based on a synthesis of existing literature, data collection and the organization of research workshops to study a specific national model and adapt the initial theoretical framework to the realities on the ground. So far, two workshops have been held, one in Morocco in October 2017 and the other in Tunisia in October 2018. The first one made it possible to draw the outlines of the Moroccan development model and led to the preparation of a collective book that will be published in 2019. The second component includes : (i) a study of “Youth mobilizations for access to employment, which interrogates the forms and lexicon of contestation as a demand for social recognition and justice and focuses, in particular, on engagement in ""youth groups"" claiming the right to employment. Qualitative surveys have been carried out in Tunisia and Algeria and the data analysis are underway. (ii) Other investigations have been launched on mobilizations around access to land in Tunisia (Gana &Taleb, 2019), environmental protest movements (D. Robert), women's production cooperatives in Morocco (Cormier, Gana, Goeury), mutual aid practices in rural areas (P. Groueiz and P. Ould Ahmed).
Within axis 3 the activities also include the organization of several seminars, the drafting of articles, the preparation of a book on the development model in Morocco, the organisation of a panel at the GIS MOMM congress, entitled ""Territorial Fractures and Development Models in North Africa"", Paris, July 2019
In addition to the activities conducted within the 3 research axes, two transversal working groups have also been set up: (i) the first on ""Reconfigurations of relations between economic elites and political elites"", whose activities included research on ""Circulation of economic action models in North Africa: Networks and exchanges between businessmen in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco"" (D.Yankaya) surveys on businessmen's networks in Tunisia and Morocco (M. Oubenal), employers' organizations (B. Hamouda) and agricultural unions (A. Gana) in Tunisia, as well as participation in scientific events and the organization of a panel entitled ""Crises and elites, Elite crises. Economic elites and political power"" for the Congress of the GIS Arab and Muslim Worlds (MOMM), Paris July 2019, (ii) the second on ""Decentralization, local governance and territorial development. Reconfigurations of public action and stakeholder systems"" (C. Steuer, M. Ben Rebah, D. Goeury) whose activities have included surveys on decentralization and local authorities (Tunisia, Egypt), the preparation of a special issue of a scientific journal entitled ""Local elections, decentralization and governance in North Africa"", in ""Espace politique"", the organization of a panel at the GIS MOMM congress ""Fractures territoriales et remises en cause des modèles de développement en Afrique du Nord"" (I. Carpentier and D. Robert)"
"All planned activities within the three research axes have been initiated and have progressed steadily, despite the difficulties encountered. In addition, research on cross-cutting themes across the three axes was launched, in particular on the ""reconfigurations of the relationship between economic elites and political power"" and on "" decentralization processes, local governance and territorial development "". The activities are carried out within working groups that make it possible to strengthen interactions between researchers and consolidate the research collective, and have led to the organization of numerous scientific events and collective publications.
The establishment of working groups and the organization of thematic research workshops have allowed for a significant progress in the collective reflection on the theoretical and conceptual frameworks for analyzing post-Uprisings political changes, development models and trajectories, the integration of Islamist parties into the political game and the rebuilding of social pacts in North Africa.
In addition, the field surveys carried out made it possible to collect a large amount of original information (on elections, voting, partisan systems, mobilizations) and led to the establishment of a rich database. These data are valorized collectively in various forms: preparation of electoral maps at various spatial scales, analytical and comparative tables of partisan systems, of mobilizations, of development indicators, etc. These data, which are regularly updated, are also used to produce collective publications. Their access, currently limited to members of the research team, will be open to the scientific community 3 years after the end of the project.
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