Development Challenges and Solutions after the Arab Spring

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Arab Spring

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Book Format: Choose an option. Product Highlights Since the events of , most Arab countries have slipped into a state of war, and living conditions for the majority of the working population have not changed for the better. This edited collection examines the socioeconomic conditions and contests the received policy framework to demonstrate tha. About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. Customer Reviews. Write a review. See any care plans, options and policies that may be associated with this product.

The centralized Arab state is under unprecedented pressure. Throughout the region, demands for self-governance are being heard — whether these are demands by urban young protesters for a decent quality of life or civil and political rights, or by marginalized regions for development and greater autonomy. Across the Arab world, there is a feeling that the governance model in the region must change and that more inclusive governance is desperately needed to address the needs and realities of a vast swathe of excluded and marginalized social groups.

Calls for the devolution of power can be heard across the region.

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Its success is proportional to an ability to hide its own mechanisms. This failure by political elites to devolve power and make concessions to competing social groups is weakening the central state rather than strengthening it. By ignoring local grievances, the central Iraqi state has contributed to its own fragmentation. This paper argues that to address the deep malaise in the Arab world, power must be devolved outwards from the center. It is no coincidence that the wave of protests was ignited by an incident in an impoverished, out-of-the-way rural region of Tunisia rather than a capital city.

The Arab Spring: Implications for US Policy and Interests

The grievances of the first Tunisian protesters were deeply linked to the wretched geography of their lives — young people born on the margins, growing up and struggling to find work in marginalized rural regions disconnected from the center, with little infrastructure, poor public services and with a deep sense of being abandoned by the central state.

Thus, local demands and regional grievances are critical to understanding the Arab Spring. A focus on the national level as the central unit of analysis and on centers such as Tahrir Square and Taghyeer Square causes us to overlook the margins in which grievances have slowly built up over decades due to regional inequalities.

It is time to rethink the obsession with the central state and shift our attention to the local level — this goes for both governments and opposition actors. Arab political life has become restricted to the salons and meeting rooms of capitals, with opposition parties often having little reach outside major cities. The revolutions in many countries mobilized large numbers precisely because they went beyond the usual political actors and mobilized ordinary people across their countries. Decentralization must become a motto for Arab opposition movements too, not just regimes.

Why the “Arab Spring”?

Amr Adly. The problem is whether this new freedom can be sustained through the creation of liberal institutions and economic problem solving. Mark N. On energy, the Saudis and other major producers have been able to compensate for the disruptions caused by the Libyan events. ICTs and Development. The centralized Arab state is under unprecedented pressure. Asian Development Bank.

Focusing on the local level would enable opposition movements to build stronger bases and, where they can get elected into local government, give them valuable experience of governing on a small scale before attempting to govern on a national level. The decentralization of power down to regional and local levels should be one of the key demands of revolutionaries across the Arab world. Decentralization can promote power-sharing by devolving powers, responsibilities and resources and creating new fora for political competition.

In fact, a shift from the national to local level has begun to take place in the Arab world over the past decade.

Decentralization reforms are perhaps most advanced in Morocco, where citizens directly elected their local and regional representatives for the first time in Local elections have been taking place in Lebanon since , while Jordan introduced them in Iraqis and Yemenis also elected their governors and regional councils for the first time in and respectively. Saudi Arabians have been electing part of their municipal councils since , and in women were able to vote for the first time.

Palestinian municipalities have existed since the second half of the 19 th century and play a critical role in providing services to citizens in the context of occupation and territorial fragmentation. Local authorities are often at the forefront of conflicts and demands. As the physically closest state institution to citizens, they are the first to face popular demands and protests and the first to bear the brunt of conflict and the collapse of public services, as we have seen in Libya and Syria.

New challenges for local authorities have given rise to innovation across the region. In post-revolution Tunisia, local authorities have taken the initiative to involve local residents in development planning and introduce new mechanisms for participatory democracy.

Arab Spring - Wikipedia

Tunisia is going further than any Arab country in decentralizing power. Not only has power been devolved across the three branches of government at the national level, but the new constitution adopted in also shifts power from the central state down to regional and local authorities.

This paper examines this revolutionary step to fundamental reshape the structures of decision-making. It argues that decentralization could be a solution to the profound governance problems facing Arab states, enhancing stability by bolstering the legitimacy of the state and opening up political space for excluded groups and minorities. Rather than weakening Arab states, decentralization could actually make them stronger, more flexible and more able to respond to changes.

This paper draws on interviews conducted by the author with actors involved in the decentralization process in Tunisia, including government officials at both national and subnational levels , parliamentarians, former officials, researchers in state research institutes, academic experts, representatives of international organizations who provide support or input into the decentralization process, and representatives of professional and civil society groups. What is Decentralization?

Decentralization is the process of moving government closer to the people by transferring powers and responsibilities to subnational levels of government. There are various components of decentralization — political decentralization involves transferring decision-making power down to the local level, usually to elected officials; administrative decentralization is the transfer of power and responsibility for providing public services to local government; and fiscal decentralization is the transfer of power to raise revenues to local government.

Decentralization is based on the principle of subsidiarity — that the lowest level of government that is closest to people should perform government functions, as long as it is capable of doing so effectively.


Decentralization has become a buzzword in recent decades, as the majority of countries around the world have attempted some form of decentralization of power Manor It is seen to bring two main benefits — driving development improving public services by adapting policies to local needs, and improving governance by strengthening participation in managing local affairs and bringing decision-making closer to citizens. It works on the premise that strengthening local control over public spending and institutions helps improve local services and reduce corruption by promoting greater accountability, transparency and dialogue between state institutions and citizens.

After the Arab Spring: Challenges for Credible Elections

The further away decision-making is and the more administrative layers there are between citizens and their representatives or officials, the less accountability citizens can exercise the principal-agent problem. Moreover, decentralization is seen as a way of improving the representation of minority groups.

Why Decentralize? Decentralization can bring a number of benefits, which can be divided into two main categories:. Promoting Development. The main argument for decentralization is that it can promote greater local development by producing policies that are better matched to local needs. Research shows that decentralization can enhance human development Habibi et al.

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Locally elected leaders and governments tend to know their local constituents and their preferences and priorities better than national governments hundreds of kilometers away. By giving local governments more powers to shape local policies and manage local services such as public transport, primary health care, education and housing, all of these can be adapted to local needs and priorities, and decisions can be taken faster than if central government approval is required for every decision. Recent studies also show that local officials and communities are better able to identify and reach the poor than central government, making social assistance programs more effective Alderman , Gadenne and Singhal Promoting Better Governance.

Greater Access to Decision-Making. Most citizens do not have access to their national parliament or ministries in the capital. But they can access their municipal office or town hall. By shifting decision-making down to the local level, decentralization makes it more accessible to citizens and creates more points of access for the public to get involved in decisions that shape their lives.

Historically, municipalities have had very little decision-making power over the PICs. It is a department of the Ministry of Interior that drafts and approves them and monitors their implementation.

Now, under the new decentralization framework, it will be municipal councils who have primary responsibility for drafting the PICs, and they will be required to involve local communities when preparing the plan. This means that local residents, who know the needs and priorities of their own areas, can participate directly in deciding what local projects should be carried out and how their local budget will be spent.

Theoretically, this proximity to decision-making also means that citizens will become better informed about the decisions at stake and more able to hold officials accountable.