Egypt and the Politics of Change in the Arab Middle East
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Egypt and the Politics of Change in the Arab Middle East

Robert Bowker

Egypt and the Politics of Change in the Arab Middle East is a forward-looking analysis of the relationship between economic and political reform in Egypt, and of the evolving nature of Arab society and political culture both in Egypt and elsewhere.
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Chapter 3: Political Reform in Egypt

Robert Bowker


The massive welfare states that enhanced regime legitimacy in many countries have proven financially unsustainable. Persistent budget deficits and financial crises have forced cutbacks in key institutions of state control such as the public sector, the subsidy system, and the civil service. . . . The state . . . is certainly in no danger of collapsing. However its capacity to control the economy and society has declined. The outcome is a hybrid regime that shares the characteristics of both an autocratic order (characterized by a powerful executive with few formal checks on his authority) and a democratic order (which includes institutions that constrain the state and increase governmental accountability). . . . A full transition to democracy is not likely in any contemporary Arab regime. However, for regimes with these hybrid characteristics, a reversion to full authoritarianism is equally unlikely.1 Bruce Rutherford Egypt is a microcosm of many of the factors that will determine the shape of the Arab Middle East. It brings into focus internal and external pressures for change, growing access to technology and opportunities to benefit from transfers of knowledge, and other factors which make change possible. On the other hand, Egypt’s political and economic environments show evidence of both adaptation and resistance to change. Globalization is obviously one among many elements shaping the progress that can be observed over the past five decades. But it is also clear that globalization has had limited impact in some areas. The obstacles Egypt has to overcome are daunting. A secular nationalist movement, stimulated by the modernization of...

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