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What Accounts for the Success of Islamist Parties in the Arab World ?

Published on: January 2010​
Genre: Comparative Middle East Politics​ Category: Research Report/ Research Paper/ White Paper​
In Arab countries where Islamist parties have been allowed to participate in the political process, the success of Islamist parties varies over time within the same society as well as cross-nationally. In the case of Jordan, support for the Islamic Action Front has dropped dramatically over the last two decades. In Yemen, support for Islah has remained largely constant while within the West Bank and Gaza support for Hamas has increased dramatically during the same period. In all three cases, political parties are legal and have been allowed to compete in elections and each of these parties represents a relatively similar political ideology derived primarily from the teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood. Given these similarities, this paper seeks to answer the following question: what accounts for this wide variation in the success of Islamist parties across these societies? Using public opinion survey data from the Arab Barometer and data collected from elite interviews with members of the parties and civil society leaders, the paper seeks to understand what accounted for the decline of the IAF in Jordan compared to these other cases by examining differences at the individual level, the party level, as well as in the contextual settings.

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