Islamist Parties and Democracy: A Boon or a Bane for Democracy?

Issue Date July 2008
Volume 19
Issue 3
Page Numbers 49-54
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What role do mainstream Islamist movements play in Arab politics? With their popular messages and broad social base, would their incorporation as normal political actors be the best hope for democratization or democracy’s bane? For too long, we have tried to answer such questions solely by speculating about the true intentions of the movements and their leaders. Islamists in the Arab world are increasingly asked about their true intentions. To hear them tell it, leaders of Islamist movements in the Arab world are democrats without democracy: they are firmly committed to the outcome of clean and fair electoral processes. It is rulers and regimes that should be pressed on their democratic commitments, not their oppositions.

About the Authors

Amr Hamzawy

Amr Hamzawy is a senior research scholar at Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. From September 2018 to June 2019, he was in an award year at the German Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, where he wrote this article. Hamzawy was a member of Egypt’s People’s Assembly in 2012, having won office in the first election after the 2011 revolution. His book On the Habits of Neoauthoritarianism: Politics in Egypt from 2013 to 2019 appeared in Arabic in September 2019.

View all work by Amr Hamzawy

Nathan J. Brown

Nathan J. Brown is professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and nonresident senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

View all work by Nathan J. Brown