Islamist Parties and Foreign Policy in North Africa: Bridging Ideology and Pragmatism

Islamist Parties and Foreign Policy in North Africa: Bridging Ideology and Pragmatism

Author: 
Mecham, Quinn
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2019
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Journal of North African Studies
Source: 
Journal of North African Studies,Vol. 24, No. 4, 2019, pp. 640-660
Abstract: 

Islamist political parties rose to lead governments in three North African countries after the 2010-11 Arab Spring: Ennahda in Tunisia, the Justice and Development Party (PJD) in Morocco, and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Egypt. While sharing many similarities with non-Islamist parties, these parties brought unique ideological and identity preferences to both domestic and foreign policy. With respect to foreign policy, these included a preference for strengthening foreign relationships within the Islamic world, a preference for indigenous solutions over 'colonial' ones, and a willingness to fight for 'just causes' at the expense of strategic relationships or traditional alliances. These preferences were significantly constrained in practice, however, leading Islamist parties to pursue much more traditional foreign policies than some had initially projected. The foreign policy pursued by governing Islamist parties resulted from a mixture of ideological preferences and institutional constraints. These constraints emerged from the domestic institutional context faced by ruling parties (such as governing coalitions and hybrid regimes), from international pressures, and also from a path to election that created internal party norms that favoured the status quo. As illustrated by three North African cases, Islamist parties in government must inevitably walk the line between ideology and pragmatism as they try to translate the ideals that served them well in political opposition to the realities of the global stage.

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CITATION: Mecham, Quinn. Islamist Parties and Foreign Policy in North Africa: Bridging Ideology and Pragmatism . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2019. Journal of North African Studies,Vol. 24, No. 4, 2019, pp. 640-660 - Available at: http://library.au.int/islamist-parties-and-foreign-policy-north-africa-bridging-ideology-and-pragmatism