The Middle East Tribune

Centered on Civil Liberties & Political Issues, Human Development & Socioeconomic Matters

Political Democracy is Not Enough to Generate Development to Arabs

Eygptain Protestors-photo

The relationship of a national authority to citizenry has been the subject of agelong arguments and indeterminate discourse. Most political theorists and analysts have unremittingly debated whether social order should be maintained by constraint or consent. And, what are the best political formation and governance pattern by which people should be guided and governed? Should it be a socialistic system or faith-based structure? Should it be a monarchy, a constitutional monarchy, or a democracy?

Patently, the present general preference of most societies leans toward having a democratic political system through which citizens can take part in the development and leading process of the country. This is mainly because a real democratic system seems to solve and placate most national political and social contentions. Taking into consideration that, a true democracy has to include several political must-haves, such as freedom of speech and expression, the right to form political parties, the right to stand for office, and have recurring free elections. Actually, these constitutional means to change or renew the mandate of the leadership of the country not only to enable the system to contain disagreements and discontents but to allow the political leadership to correct its path and practice.

At its origin, democracy was an assembly to freely discuss political and socioeconomic issues of a society, and institute the necessary laws, accordingly. With time, the concept of democracy flourished to become the core of most political systems of Western countries. Actually, democracy did not gain its broad momentum until the crash of communism and downslope of socialism at which it turned into a universal form and order that enable societies and nations to develop and live peacefully. Nonetheless, in many advanced democracies, the issue of whether democratic methods should render greater social and economic equality, such as equal benefiting from national wealth, providing gratis education, and free public healthcare, to the population or not, remains a subject of intense political controversy.

In the developing world and Arab world, in particular, democracy is conceived as a political label attached solely to the application of free multiparty elections through which parliamentary representatives, governments, and presidents are selected. To most of them, the prevailing current notion of democratic governance is rather of political practice than being deep-seated in the electoral laws, judicial structure and socioeconomic policies of the state. Disregarding that the social and economic and conditions of any country, democratic or not, are the most decisive factors in creating public contentment thus and so stability and progress.

In that respect, though several Arab revolts, like in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Libya, succeeded to overthrow their authoritarian regimes upon which they now have freely elected parliaments and governments. Yet, there are no signals or strong leads to assume that those newly instated authorities are willing to address the chronic socio-economic problems of their countries soon.

On the political theater, the unfortunate result is that these newly instituted governments and parliaments did not nominate yet the suitable political settings and democratic model they would consider to reunite the ethnic and religious fabrics of their states—let alone the question of power sharing of minorities. Last, but not least, what are the strategies and levels of commitment of these new authorities to firmly effectuate the internationally acknowledged human rights, civil liberties, women’s rights, and other corresponding issues?

While, on the socioeconomic level, Arab Spring governments did not declare so far any economic strategies, plans or even dispositions of how they would revitalize the economy, combat unemployment, and reduce poverty; for instance. Similarly, they did not specify the outline of their public welfare orientations, such as social security benefits, public education, healthcare, and pension; for example, they plan to underwrite to improve the severe socioeconomic conditions of their citizens.

In all likelihood, political democracy in itself is not enough to bring forth security, development, and prosperity to the Arab world. At bottom, the incontrovertible reality is that political democracy, economic and social reforms have to be established in quick succession; otherwise, these hastily installed Arab governments will be challenged and unhorsed before long.

The mainstream concern nowadays is whether post-revolution governments have the will and fortitude to deliver real reform and development to their troubled societies, or they will just wear and tear the Arab Spring movements to maintain power.

It is reasonable to remind Arab ruling cliques,  in control and newly installed alike, and economic elites that the Arab revolts were originally aroused to eliminate poverty and terminate debasement. Arab people took the streets calling for democracy and justice to embody their urgent need to regain self-worth and well-being.

To all intents, hundreds of millions of Arabs deserve to live in the twenty-one century without any surrealistic ideology and demagogic policy. Arab Spring’s parliaments, governments, and presidents should keep in mind that the Arab uprisings were not stirred up just to replace some tyrants with hesitant party-spirited personas. In fact, the Arab masses were looking for a broad change of the governing system so that they can have decisive reformers and social liberators who can stir the wheels of the country toward modernization and prosperity.

If not, we will witness ARAB SPRING part II, or, alas, a return to dictatorship.


Author’s Note: This article is also published at the Arabian Gazette website.


10 comments on “Political Democracy is Not Enough to Generate Development to Arabs

  1. nonentiti
    April 5, 2018

    Great article, as always. Thank you.
    I totally agree that political democracy is just a name and superficial facade when it does not include other aspects of citizen input. However, this input is also possible without the surface democracy; political democracy is just as much superficial in many western countries, where people might get ‘freedom of speech’, but nobody listens, and where people go to vote every three or four years, but nothing changes because the system is stagnant on bureaucracy and because the people they can choose between are all alike. Having a vote creates the illusion in the majority that they have had their say, and that stops unrest, which is a nice way to shut people up, but it does not guarantee their input.
    As a westerner, I am not in favour of democracy, because it cannot respond to global disasters like the climate change fast enough, and I hope that developing and Arab countries will not copy the west, but skip the step of bureaucratic democracy and develop a more honest system immediately. The idea that the only alternative to democracy is dictatorship is western propaganda, but it isn’t true; there are other possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mohammad S. Moussalli
      April 6, 2018

      These are profound lines, it images the truth:
      “where people go to vote every three or four years, but nothing changes because the system is stagnant on bureaucracy and because the people they can choose between are all alike. Having a vote creates the illusion in the majority that they have had their say, and that stops unrest, which is a nice way to shut people up, but it does not guarantee their input.”
      I simply agree.
      Thank you


  2. Lillian Zarzar
    October 13, 2012

    Well-written, well-said. Thought-provoking. Thank you for your insightful comments. Trust that others in the Arab community (and otherwise) will take notice.


    • Mohammad S. Moussalli
      October 13, 2012

      Thanks to you Ms. Zarzar. I’m confident that free people will win their cause at the end. The sonner the better.
      Best Regards


  3. Avijit Sinha
    October 13, 2012

    Democratic political system doesn’t mean aping the west. In Asia & Africa, each & every country has a number of ethnic & religious group. Here a two-party system with limited tenure for the ruler does not hold water.


    • Mohammad S. Moussalli
      October 13, 2012

      I agree that it’s not necessarily to copy a system from somewhere, but people should take notice of such experiences so that not to make same mistakes.
      Thank you


  4. Phil Cantrill
    September 25, 2012

    You’re right, but the process of “liberation” we have seen in the so-called Arab Spring seems to have been generated solely to remove from power someone that certain world leaders seem to believe opposes their expansionist aims. Witness the continuing chaos in Libya and Egypt under their new regimes, for example. The people are no better off, even though the rulers may perhaps be more compliant to the aims of multinationalists. Nor will the lot of the poor people in Syria be improved if the current “revolution” succeeds — as it probably will eventually, but a horrendous costs to ordinary Syrians.


    • M. Moussalli
      September 25, 2012

      It could be this or that. But without pushing for reform and democracy there will be no chance at all. In any rate, turmoil will last for some time, the Arabs are not adapted to deal with what took place and with what are happeneing nowadays. The Arab world needs support and guidance from the democratized powers to pass this era. The west was waving the flag of promoting democracy for decades, now we will see if these commitments were genuine and true or not.


  5. Carla Dickson
    September 23, 2012

    “In all probabilities and practices, political democracy, by itself, is not enough to bring forth security, development and prosperity to the Arab world.” I couldn’t agree more.

    In my opinion the lack of security, lack of development and prosperity are as important as the democratic political aspects. If your concerns go only to one of this matters you’ll soon end up giving a step back to political developments. Achieving a structured economic and social growth is as important as establishing democratic political roots.

    Congratulations on this article. With your permission I will share it.


    • M. Moussalli
      September 24, 2012

      I share your posted opinion without restraint. Be free to do what you want. It’s my pleasure to know that people like you commend my article.
      Thank you


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Mohammad S. Moussalli

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© 2018 Mohammad S. Moussalli; ----------------------- Sharing, reblogging, excerpts and republication of this material, or part thereof, are permissible PROVIDED that it's clearly attributed to the author with reference to the original publication.
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