[P4870] Politics of Legitimacy in the Maghreb

Created by Michael J. Willis
Sunday, 11/19/17 10:30am


This panel examines the politics of legitimacy in the states of the Maghreb. Legitimacy is a term frequently used in political debates in the Maghreb both by rulers to justify and bolster their position and, even more frequently, by critics of and opponents of these rulers. However, quite what this legitimacy means in concrete terms is rarely explained or questioned. The panel aims to develop an understanding of the notion of legitimacy in the specific context of the politics of the contemporary Maghreb through bringing together four more detailed studies of debates and contests over the issue in recent years in the three core states of the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. One paper looks directly at the power wielded by the monarchy in Morocco, seeking to examine and question, through discourse analysis and within-case methods, the established official and academic consensus that its power is rooted in notions of its religious legitimacy.A second paper looks at how Islamist parties in Algeria have dealt with the issue of legitimacy, symbolic and political, in the wake of the violence and upheaval of the 1990s by pursuing selectively ‘apolitical’ activity at a distance from the state, ‘politics,’ and partisanship. A third paper looks at the relationship between elections and legitimacy in both Algeria and Morocco, seeking to understand the degree to which regimes use elections to bolster their own claims to domestic and international legitimacy. It also explores, through recent legislative elections in the two countries, how political parties perceive elections affect their legitimacy with regards to their leaders, supporters and the regime. The final paper looks at the concept of political legitimacy in the aftermath of the departure of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia in 2011 exploring how increasing awareness of the pre-revolutionary internal dynamics of the regime undermines dominant narratives of a popular - and thus legitimate - 'revolution' rather than one more made and facilitated through divisions within the regime itself. All four papers draw on extensive fieldwork conducted in the countries concerned.


Pol Science



Ellen Lust

(University of Gothenburg)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Discussant;

Michael J. Willis

(University of Oxford)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer;

Yasmina Abouzzohour

(University of Oxford)
Yasmina Abouzzohour, B.A. (Hons) Columbia University, is a DPhil candidate in Politics at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include Arab authoritarian resilience, non-rent accommodation, and post-colonial political thought in the Maghreb....
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Anne Wolf

(University of Oxford)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;
Saliba, Ilyas (Humboldt University Berlin) - Abstract Second Author