This article is part of the Special Issue “Parliaments in the Middle East and North Africa: A Struggle for Relevance”. Because the politics of citizenship is felt at all stages of the parliamentary process, the very question of parliamentary relevance itself cannot be answered without reference to the citizenry. That Jordan’s citizenship regime influences and impedes parliamentary politics is explored through two cases. The first being decentralization, understood as a relocating of tasks, decision-making and mandates from a centralized location to different, more localized levels. The second study focuses on the uprisings occurring from May 30, 2018 against the draft domestic tax law introduced to parliament by the government of then-Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki. Both cases are implicated in the Kingdom’s parliamentary politics, and their selection is a conscious move away from election analysis. Taken together they elucidate how citizenship is a key battleground on which any future emancipation/development of parliament will be fought.
This article contributes to the Special Issue “Parliaments in the Middle East and North Africa: A Struggle for Relevance”. In the Euro-Mediterranean region, several international parliamentary initiatives are engaged in parliamentary diplomacy and cooperation. Aside from the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (pa-UfM) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (pam) cross the shores. In addition, a number of national European parliaments, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations, cooperate with Arab parliaments in a bilateral manner.
Based on the author’s own research in Brussels, Amman, Cairo, Rabat, Tunis, and Valletta, the article analyzes cross-Mediterranean parliamentary relations and argues that parliamentary cooperation could facilitate an increase in Arab parliaments’ overall relevance, eventually leading to advanced democratization; however, the authoritarian regimes still in place in most Arab countries still successfully prevent a meaningful strengthening of national legislatures. International support offers thus require broader transformations in their partner countries before yielding success.
Since the 2016 introduction of a proportional open-list voting system to Jordan’s parliamentary elections, the Jordanian government has faced ongoing demands for reform. In response, the government has continually pointed to the many liberal democracies in Europe that use similar electoral systems. However, the issue is not that an undemocratic system is in place but rather that the system is unconducive to democratic reform given Jordan’s broader socio-political environment. This legal comment will explore the key facets of Jordan’s 2016 election law, discussing how the system – which could be effective in other contexts – impedes political change in Jordan and thus maintains the same patronage-fueled electoral dynamics that have prevailed since the reintroduction of parliamentary life in Jordan three decades ago.
Part of a special issue devoted to the role of parliaments in contemporary Arab politics, this article gives an oversight of the evolution of the constitutional rules governing the status and powers of Arab parliamentary assemblies following the “Arab spring” and during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Parliaments have traditionally played a marginal role in Arab constitutional theory and practice. Although the strengthening of the role and powers of parliaments and a rebalancing of the executive-legislative relations in favour of the latter featured prominently in the reform agendas emerging from the protest movements of the “Arab spring,” these movements proved unable to produce lasting change. The reforms have either been rolled back by oppressive governments or given way to a political pactice of renewed presidential dominance which diverges considerably from the initial aspirations of the reformers. The highly unfavourable conditions existing in most Arab countries – with internally divided democratic reform movements, entrenched military, and political elites determined to resist genuine democratic change with all means available and powerful external actors supporting the domestic status quo – are likely to ensure that parliaments will remain confined to a largely ornamental role in Arab politics in the foreseeable future.
This article is part of the Special Issue “Parliaments in the Middle East and North Africa: A Struggle for Relevance.” Tunisia’s parliament has undergone a remarkable internal transformation process since 2011, from a formerly mostly irrelevant institution to an influential locus of policy-making. This successful progress notwithstanding, the parliament’s transformation to a democratic assembly has not been fully concluded yet. A main challenge is that the legislature still shows a number of characteristics of an “authoritarian parliament”: besides a lack of staff and financial resources, the continuous dominance of personal kinship over institutionalized power structures remains particularly problematic.
While private networks of individual decision-makers were perceived as crucial for Tunisia’s stability during the turbulent post-revolution years, they concomitantly contain the risk for a resurrection of former authoritarian structures. The article thus traces the Tunisian parliament’s major transformation steps from a former irrelevant legislature to a consolidated, influential assembly, and points out the still existing challenges.
The present study investigates the role of written documents in Islamic court procedure, and especially the evidential status of such documents. For this purpose, I analyze different kinds of sources that vary in their proximity to practice. In addition to furūʿ-literature, I draw on shurūṭ manuals, fatwās and court records from 16th-century Jerusalem. This approach allows for a multi-dimensional reconstruction of the legal discourse on written documents. I argue that this discourse operated on several levels, some of which are virtually invisible if these sources are studied in isolation. By contrast, a holistic perspective reveals a subtle interaction between these discursive levels that reduced the tension between legal doctrine and practical concerns.
This article explores how jurists articulated the distinction between free and enslaved Muslim women through sartorial norms in the formative and early post-formative periods of Islamic law. Drawing on works of fiqh (positive law), tafsīr (Qurʾān commentary) and ḥadīth (Prophetic and non-Prophetic reports), I posit that this distinction attests to the tensions between “proprietary” and “theocentric” sexual ethics, as noted by Hina Azam. Specifically, I track the variant transmissions of a widely-cited report featuring the Caliph ʿUmar (r. 13–23/634–44), and trace how jurists responded to the free-slave binary in their discussion of “modesty zones” (ʿawrāt) and veiling practices. Based on a detailed examination of fiqh sources to the early fifth Islamic century (with some attention to subsequent material), I argue that Islamic modesty norms are best understood in light of the proprietary/theocentric binary, and that the divergence between juristic expectations of free and enslaved women increased in the post-formative period.
This paper focuses on management of Islam by the French State since the state of emergency declared in 2015. We analyze the legal actions of the State using a law-in-context approach and theorize secularism as the State’s management of religion. We focus on the Senate Report (2016) concerning Muslim worship, the legal changes wrought by the state of emergency, and the institutions formed to govern Islam and secularism. We examine whether there has been a change in the French State’s approach to Muslim worship. Rather than remaining neutral, the French State has become even more actively involved in the field of religion by adopting a reformist attitude intended to transform not the principles of laïcité but the Muslims in France. In this period, the State has taken concrete steps and built institutions both to support the formation of a secularized French Islam and to govern the boundaries of laïcité.
This paper analyzes how development cooperation can actively support democratic governance through cooperation in the water sector. To answer this question, we develop an analytical approach based on democratization research and on water governance research. We tested the approach in three donor-supported water projects in Morocco and carried out over seventy interviews with key stakeholders.
Our findings show (a) key factors influencing the scope for external support for democratic governance in the water sector, (b) potential negative effects of the support when local elites grasp new resources, and (c) unintended positive spill-over effects of water projects on democratic governance within and beyond the sector (for instance, strengthening formerly marginalized groups). As these empirical findings suggest, there is a potentially large scope of action for supporting democratic governance through water sector cooperation. We therefore highlight the need for more analytical and empirical research on causal interlinkages between these two fields of intervention.