Electoral institutions in non-democratic regimes : the impact of the 1990 electoral reform on patterns of party development in Mubarak's Egypt
This PhD researches the development of political parties in Egypt between 1981 and 2000 under the presidency of Husni Mubarak. The starting point of this investigation is the failure of Egypt's parties to develop into politically-relevant organisations with strong constituency support in society. What we find instead are parties that - since the inception of multipartism in 1977 - remain characterised by their marginal role within the polity and politics of the state, that are little entrenched in society and that expose an underdeveloped and oftentimes fragmented internal structure. What is more, not only have these parties remained persistently weak, but since the early 1990s they experienced a further weakening of their position in the Egyptian polity. Essentially, this weakening was evident at both the electoral and parliamentary level. In both these domains of politics parties were far more vocal and visibly present during the 1980s than during the 1990s. During the latter decade, in fact, the country's main parties had become entirely marginalized actors in the electoral and parliamentary arenas. This PhD argues that the marginalisation of Egypt's parties was critically influenced by the 1990 reform of the parliamentary electoral law. This reform entailed a shift from a PR list- based regime to an absolute majority two-round system. Following the electoral connection literature, it is demonstrated that this particular inter-system change, rather than supporting the development of strong mass-based organisations, actually contributed to the further weakening of Egypt's parties as collective actors in the electoral arena. This was the case because the new electoral law created an institutional environment that adversely affect the capacity of party headquarters to control the nomination and placement of candidates and the willingness of party candidates to pursue a party over a personal reputation-seeking strategy in the elections. Both these factors together, it is maintained, severely undermined the capacity of parties to enhance levels of internal unity and visible representation in the electoral arena, and as such contributed to their observed marginalisation in the Egyptian polity.