Iran's Conservatives Face the Electorate

by Arang Keshavarzian | published February 1, 2001

In May, Iranians will go to the polls to pass judgment on the record of President Mohammad Khatami and the reform movement he symbolizes. Although observers of Iran typically characterize the Islamic Republic's factional divisions as a single left-right split dividing the regime into unified "reformist" and "conservative" blocs, a multitude of potential cleavages belie this simple dichotomy. Since the 1979 revolution, a variety of opinions have existed within the regime's accepted confines.

Beyond the Bibi Bill

Israel's Electoral System and the Intifada

by Jeff Halper | published December 19, 2000

December 18 the Knesset partially amended Israel's electoral law—the so-called "Bibi bill"—allowing Binyamin Netanyahu to run against Ehud Barak for prime minister. The law had stipulated that when a government resigns, as Barak's did December 9, elections are held for the prime ministership only, and that only Knesset members may present their candidacy. By the amendment, Netanyahu, who resigned from the Knesset after his 1999 defeat, could have run.

Cracks in Egypt's Electoral Engineering

The 2000 Vote

by Vickie Langohr | published November 7, 2000

Falluja's Feelings of Exclusion

by Quil Lawrence
published in MER238

Standing in line outside a Falluja polling station on December 15, 2005, a man named Qays spoke the words that the White House had been waiting to hear since the preceding January 30. “We Sunnis made a mistake in the last elections, and the people are suffering for that mistake. Even the armed groups know that.” The mass abstention of Sunni Arabs from the January 30 elections, some heeding the calls of communal leaders for a boycott and others fearing the death threats of insurgents, left them under-represented in the transitional national assembly and, ultimately, marginal to the process of drafting the new Iraqi constitution that passed a national referendum on October 15. “Bringing the Sunnis back in” was the foremost goal of US diplomacy in Iraq in 2005.

Damanhour by Hook and by Crook

by Joshua Stacher
published in MER238

On a November day in the sleepy Egyptian Delta town of Damanhour, around 1,000 townsfolk gathered in the central square to listen to Mustafa al-Fiqqi of the ruling National Democratic Party explain why they should vote for him as their parliamentary representative in two days’ time. Al-Fiqqi is a former ambassador to Austria and serves on the National Council for Human Rights. Prior to the 2005 elections, he was one of ten MPs appointed to their seats by President Husni Mubarak. But many locals were unimpressed with the national prominence of this native son, who had not come home very often since leaving for Cairo some 40 years before. Some in the square grumbled that he had only shown up to campaign two months prior to the polls.

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Iran's Reform Dilemma

Within and Against the State

by Ali Mudara | published September 12, 2000

Egypt's Paradoxical Elections

by Mona El-Ghobashy
published in MER238

For undemocratic regimes in a democratic age, elections are an extremely valuable tool. They create opportunities for limited popular participation, disarm domestic and international critics, and enhance political monitoring and control by revealing the relative political strength of government and opposition candidates. Such elections are successful to the extent that they maximize tolerated competition and minimize the residual uncertainty that accompanies even the most managed poll. It is no mystery, then, why authoritarian elites convene elections. The paradox is why they constrain themselves in fixing them.

Existing Political Vessels Cannot Contain the Reform Movement

A Conversation with Sai'id Hajjarian

by Kaveh Ehsani | published March 13, 2000

The following is the text of an interview with Sai'id Hajjarian that first appeared in Middle East Report 212 (Fall 1999). Hajjarian, a newspaper editor and key adviser to President Mohammad Khatami, was shot and severely disabled by political foes in March 2000.

Assessing Israel's New Government

by Joel Beinin | published July 6, 1999

When Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak presents his coalition government to the Knesset he will receive a vote of confidence from 75 of its 120 members. Seven parties, some with incompatible positions on key issues, support the new government. In addition to Barak's One Israel list (Labor Party plus Gesher and Meimad, 26 seats), the coalition includes the Sephardi-orthodox SHAS (17 seats), the dovish-secularist MERETZ (10 seats), the politically ambiguous Center Party (6 seats), whose leaders include ministers in the previous Likud government; the secular-Russian immigrant Yisrael ba-`Aliyah (6 seats), the pro-settler National Religious Party (5 seats), and the ultra-orthodox United Torah Judaism (5 seats).