The Arab Spring
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The Arab Spring

An Essay on Revolution and Constitutionalism

Antoni Abat i Ninet and Mark Tushnet

Approaching the concept of Islamic constitutionalism from a comparative perspective, this thought-provoking study by Antoni Abat i Ninet and Mark Tushnet uses traditional Western political theory as a lens to develop a framework for analyzing the events known as the ‘Arab Spring’. Writing with clarity and insight, the authors place Western and Arabic traditions into a constructive dialogue. They focus on whether we can develop a ‘theory of revolutions’ that helps us understand events occurring at divergent times at geographically separate locations.
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Chapter 3: Unsuccessful revolutions within the Arab Spring wave: the cases of Morocco and Libya

Antoni Abat i Ninet and Mark Tushnet


In Chapters Three, Four, and Five, we move from theoretical abstraction and general considerations to concrete post-revolutionary scenarios. This chapter deals with unsuccessful revolutions: those that were not inevitable, non-violent, or durable. The first case analyzed is that of Morocco, a failed revolution where the first political demonstrations and protests ended with constitutional reform in which the King generally succeeded in retaining his power even though he endorsed a popular referendum on a constitutional amendment that incorporated some of the revolutionaries’ demands. The pre-revolution had some effects on the nation’s constitutional and political order. The second case in this chapter is Libya, which also does not fit with the conceptualization of revolution, primarily because of the civil war there. The analysis of the Moroccan case is undertaken from a modern historical perspective, the starting point being the decolonization process, its war of independence, and the first constitutional text of 1956. The chapter follows up with a brief exploration of the constitutions of 1962, 1970, 1972, 1992, and 1996, as well as the evolution of the general rule of law, the role of the people, and the effective powers of the monarchy. The discussion also examines the first events that seemed to expand the revolutionary wave to Morocco and the reaction of the head of state that stymied the revolutionary spirit by offering a new draft of the constitution, and shows how in nine months the King ‘resolved the issue’.

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