The High Water Mark of Islamist Politics? The Case of Yemen
Abstract:In Yemen, Islamists seem to have lost their edge in an area formerly considered their strength: grassroots politics. In the 2006 local council elections the Islamist party Islah suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of the ruling General People's Congress (GPC) party. The overwhelming victory of the GPC in the local councils can be accounted for with reference to four main factors: the GPC's use of the state to advance its electoral aims; the political skill of GPC politicians; the political blunders of the Joint Meeting Parties) JMP; and finally, several political liabilities particular to Islah, including internal fragmentation and party members' often harmful records in office. The elections show that President 'Ali 'Abdullah Salih and his supporters have developed a more nuanced semi-authoritarian framework for maintaining power. In contrast, the opposition demonstrated political immaturity, internal weakness, and an inability to use potential grassroots support to oppose the regime. The future of accountability and competitive politics in Yemen is intimately connected to the political survival and revitalization of Islah. In the aftermath of the elections, the opposition must conduct serious, critical self-evaluation if it intends to hold the regime accountable and to curb the ever-increasing centralization of power around the President and his family.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: April 1, 2007
The Middle East Institute has published The Middle East Journal quarterly since 1947. The Journal provides original and objective research and analysis, as well as source material, on the area from Morocco to Pakistan and including Central Asia. The Journal provides the background necessary for an understanding and appreciation of the region's political and economic development, cultural heritage, ethnic and religious diversity.
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