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On Municipal Elections in Lebanon and the Prospects of Change

[Map showing all municipalities in Lebanon. Image by rarelibra via Wikipedia]

In a few weeks’ time, Lebanon’s fourth round of municipal elections since 1998 are scheduled to be held. This event highlights three key and interrelated challenges facing the country. The first is whether the ruling political elite will actually decide to hold municipal elections. If held, the second challenge concerns whether elected council members will adhere to a plan of action that addresses people’s local needs. The third challenge is getting people to vote for those who will serve them rather than those who will represent the interests of the political establishment. These issues are interlinked. The decisions of political elites regarding holding elections are ...

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The Dashed Hopes of the Tunisian Revolution: Complicity between Nidaa Tounes and Ennahda

[An image of Beji Caïd Essebsi delivering a speech in Palais des Congrès. Image by Magharebia/Flickr]

In their hearts and minds, Tunisians were not in a mood to rejoice on the fifth anniversary of their revolution. While Tunisians are often told that theirs is the only revolution that remains from the "Arab Spring," they know full well that its goals have not been achieved. The discrepancy between the way the Tunisian revolution is viewed around the world and the way the Tunisians who carried it out experienced it may account for the difficulties Tunisians now have in defining and evaluating it. On the anniversary of the revolution, 14 January, this difficulty was made all the greater as the center of the political stage was occupied by the crisis rocking the ...

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Turkey: Nationalism and War Mongering Won the Election

[Campaign poster, Erzurum. Photo by Bertil Videt.]

The mood was tense as the election results came in to the local office of the progressive People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the town of Erzurum in eastern Turkey. This is a very conservative region on the invisible border between nationalist Turkish Anatolia and the Kurdish region. The HDP’s office was filled with leaflets and banners that party activists did not dare to distribute due to fear of reprisals and violence. The party lost its single deputy from the area and saw a small nationwide decrease in votes. But after a nerve wracking evening of vote counting, it was clear that the party had just got above the ten percent threshold required to enter the Turkish ...

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Eastern Promises Squandered

[Image via]

In the days following the 1 November election, Turkey’s pro-government newspapers have depicted a bright future for the nation. Writing for Yeni Şafak, one columnist explained that the government could now move forward with constitutional and economic reforms, albeit vaguely defined ones. In Yeni Akit, another columnist echoed these sentiments, pointing out that the exchange rate had already begun to fall, stocks were rising, and anticipated investments could now begin again. Voicing a general sentiment, a Sabah columnist enthused that, “In Turkey, the leader best able to analyze politics and take the electorate’s pulse is President Tayyip Erdoğan. Despite political ...

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New Texts Out Now: Negar Mottahedeh, #iranelection: Hashtag Solidarity and the Transformation of Online Life

[Cover of Negar Mottahedeh,

Negar Mottahedeh, #iranelection: Hashtag Solidarity and the Transformation of Online Life. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Negar Mottahedeh (NM): Writing ‪#‎iranelection was for me about the witnessing of a sea-change brought about in our life as global citizens by an epic solidarity around the first long trending global hashtag in 2009. No social media platform had seen masses of people from all over the world engage one another about something that happened in a country that was largely foreign to many of them. What I saw was people from the remotest corners of the world, like Alaska, to the most ...

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Will the Greferendum Bring A Rupture?: Answers from the European Left

Image courtesy of the author

If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it; for it is hard to be sought out and difficult. Heraclitus, Fragments Having participated in the international anti-EU forum just days before Syriza government called for a bailout referendum, Athens was seminal in inciting all smatters to indulge in the day-to-day developments of Greek politics. During the three-day forum, participants were involved in deep discussions about political and economic crises within the European Economic Area, with particular emphasis on the southern countries along with the crises’ impact on left- and right-wing realignments in several member countries, including the ...

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Nobody Leaves through the Ballot Box: The Historical Irrelevance of General Elections in Sudanese Political Transitions

[Map by UN Department of Field Support – Cartographic Section via

In almost sixty years of independence, Sudan has witnessed a dozen heads of state come and go and countless presidential and parliamentary elections. Of these presidents and prime ministers, less than a handful was voted into office and not a single one has been voted out. With the current elections widely seen as a farce, a foregone conclusion with Omar al-Bashir set to win and many Sudanese people shifting between apathy and antipathy towards the process, a spotlight has been shone on the electoral process. The traditional opposition has boycotted the elections, some preferring to push for a seemingly never-ending “national dialogue” instead and others refusing to ...

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First Thoughts on the Elections in Turkey: A Roundtable

[Supporters at an HDP meeting, Istanbul, 30 May 2015. Image via Alfonso Ianniello /]

On 7 June 2015, Turkey held a general election to elect the 550 members of the Grand National Assembly and form the Twenty-Fifth Parliament of Turkey. Those who have followed politics in Turkey have watched a tense, and even violent, political scene emerge over the past few weeks. The pre-election period was shaped by vehement election campaigns by the vying political parties, as they put forward their agendas. The period was also dominated by debates over the alleged unlawful use of public funds and state grants by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for its own election campaigns; the state-affiliated media’s partial and biased representation of the AKP and ...

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Turkey Media Roundup (April 14)

[Demonstration commemorating the Armenian Genocide, Istanbul, April 2010. Image via thomas koch /]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Turkey and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Turkey Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Sunday night of every week.] English Hostage Crisis A Murder and Primitive Opposition Commenting on the hostage crisis on 31 March that ended with the murder of the prosecutor and two protesters, Etyen Mahçupyan argues that the murder of the prosecutor might actually have been a chance for the opposition to recover some ground. Prosecutor's Murder and an Alliance of Nihilism ...

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Maghreb Media Roundup (December 21)

[Image of a home in Choum, Mauritania. Image by Ammar Hassan/Flickr]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Maghreb and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Maghreb Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Thursday night of every week] Algeria   Appel au meurtre contre Kamel Daoud A Salafi imam called for the assassination of Kamel Daoud, an award winning journalist and novelist from Oran, after an appearance on the French channel France 2. Bouteflika continue son tour d’Europe des hopitaux The medical plane for Algeria’s president ...

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The Quest for a Way Out of Tunisia’s Constitutional Quagmire

[Image of candidate posters on a wall in Tunisia. Image by Malek Khadraoui for Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung/Flickr]

Successfully passing the tests of democracy while the whole region seems to be doomed to a chronic state of turmoil, Tunisia is considered to have set a good example for the “Arab Spring” countries and is expected to prove that a happy ending is actually possible. In fact, Tunisia has come a long way from the shadows of the police state to the perspective of a sustainable democracy. And it is Tunisian political life that has witnessed the biggest shift from a vegetative state to an interesting and complicated case study. From one crisis to another, the Tunisian political landscape evolved into the site of recent elections, which resulted in redistributing the cards ...

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Maghreb Media Roundup (November 8)

[Image of homes in Essaouira. Image by flikr/Flickr]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Maghreb and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Maghreb Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Thursday night of every week]  Algeria Algérie : 1er novembre 1954, retour sur la « Toussaint rouge » de l’indépendance Algeria celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of its war for independence this week. Hostility along the Algeria-Morocco border? Not to worry, it’s just volleyball…3,700 participants have signed up for a ...

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The General Knows Best: Ridiculing Civilian Politics in Egypt

With the marked deterioration of economic conditions and the deepening of security challenges confronting the state, the current military-backed regime in Egypt has failed to deliver on its long-standing promises of economic prosperity and stability. As signs of social discontent have grown, even in the face of brutal repression, the regime of Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has been blaming its own failures on conspiracies and plots, allegedly led by external forces in collaboration with opposition groups and ...

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Morocco: A Bipolarization under Royal Control

The Moroccan electoral race began in September with the local and regional elections, which culminated on Tuesday 13 October with the election of the President of the Chamber of Councillors, the Upper House of Parliament. [1] The 120 elected representatives (217 prior to the constitutional reform of 2011) have designated Hakim Benchemass, from the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM) as the president of the Chamber of Councillors. It took two rounds and a margin of one vote to rule out Benchemass’ ...

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Egypt: What Elections?

With a final turnout of less than twenty-six percent, voting for the first round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections ended on 28 October across fourteen governorates, including Giza, Alexandria, Suez and Fayoum. The poor election turnout came as a shock to many observers. The ongoing elections are viewed as the third and final step of the transition “roadmap” that the current political leadership announced following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi two years ago. Yet the majority of those ...

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The Ongoing, Steady Gains of Morocco's Islamist Party

Moroccans took to the polls on 4 September to vote in the first local elections since 2009. A total of about one hundred forty thousand candidates competed for around thirty-two thousand seats. These local elections were the first to take place after the new constitution in 2011, which the monarch effectively used as a way to steal the 20 February Movement’s thunder and calm the protests by seemingly giving in to some of the protestors’ demands. The new constitution and the subsequent law of ...

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خلافـــــة الرئيـــس

كلمّا تقدّم الزمن تُطرح مسألة خلافة الرئيس محمود عباس بقوة أكبر، لأن الرئيس تجاوز الثمانين من عمره وانتهت الفترة القانونية لولايته منذ حوالي سبع سنوات من دون إجراء الانتخابات التي لا يعرف أحد متى ستعقد وكيف، مع تأكيد الرئيس المستمر بأنه لن يترشح لولاية ثانية، ما يعني أن معركة التنافس على الخلافة قد بدأت – وإن من وراء الكواليس - منذ فترة طويلة، وهي التي يمكن أن تفسر الكثير مما يحدث من قرارات وإقصاءات. كما أنّ الأطراف المقررة (فتح وحماس) ليستا ناضجتين ولا جاهزتين، ولا تريدان إجراء الانتخابات بالرغم من ...

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HDP’nin programina evet diyen muhafazakarlar, kadin, Alevi ve LGBTI’lerle esitlige de evet diyor

HDP’nin programına evet diyen muhafazakârlar, kadın, Alevi ve LGBTİ’lerle eşitliğe de evet diyor Bu seçimleri değerlendirirken en önce şunu söylemek gerekir: Kazanan her şeyden önce gönüllü müşahitlik yapan, oyları son dakikaya kadar koruyan, halkın iradesi tam olarak sonuçlara yansısın diye uğraşan, tabandan örgütlenmiş, genç ve kadın ağırlıklı sandık hareketleridirz. Seçim sonuçlarına güvenimiz tam, uzun yıllardır ilk kez ana gündem sandık çalmalar değil. Üstelik bu sandık hareketleri ne parayla, ne ...

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Tunisia: Democratic Miracle or Mirage?

Since December 2014, Western officials and analysts have very actively, almost aggressively, celebrated the Tunisian “success,” which is alternatively defined as an “exception” or a “model” in a chaotic Arab world. Following the Tunisian president’s official visit to France in April 2015, Beji Caid Essebi’s visit to the United States on 20-21 May 2015, completed the Western consecration of Tunisia’s induction into the “club of democracies.” The current fascination with Tunisia’s democratic achievement, ...

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Refugees in Turkey: Implications of Increasing Politicization

Migration has long been a securitized issue in Turkey, but with the upcoming parliamentary election on 7 June 2015, this might indeed be the first time that immigration into Turkey has been politicized to such an extent. For a brief moment in 2008, Turkey appeared to be moving away from its security-focused approach to immigration. A representative from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), who asked to remain unnamed, says that this is why Turkey was able to pass Law No. 6458 on ...

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Requiem for Tunisia’s Revolution?

The Arab uprisings seemed to herald a fatal rupture in orientalist narratives, challenging as they did essentialized renderings of the region as one mired by "authoritarian resilience" and failures to democratize. However, four years after the uprisings, familiar forms of reductionist analysis about the regions persist, albeit more subtly. The latest readings of the Tunisian experience have not shied away from condescending tropes regarding the success of its stable, liberal transition as ...

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Maghreb Media Roundup (December 4)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Maghreb and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Maghreb Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Thursday night of every week] Algeria Are There Lessons to be Learnt From Algeria’s Past? Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck examines similarities and differences between Algeria’s struggle with the Armed ...

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On the Margins Roundup (November)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Mali, South Sudan, Somalia, Mauritania, Djibouti, and Comoros Islands and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the On the Margins Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each month's roundup to]  Comoros China tests malaria drug on an entire African nation Chinese scientists, with the Comoran government, gave Chinese-made drugs to ...

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Tunisia: The Victory of Secularism over Islamism?

To the layman’s eye, the recent results of Tunisia’s legislative elections read like the triumph of progressive secularism over backward Islamism. Champions of modernization and secularization theory, in Arab and Western media alike, have hailed the victory of Nidaa Tounes  (the Call of Tunisia), a conservative patchwork movement composed of ancien régime figures, technocrats, and leftists, united under the vague banners of Bourguibism and anti-Islamism. The Islamist movement of Ennahda, the ...

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