The quest for legitimacy : the Egyptian state from Nasser to Sisi
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Egypt could be described as a unique case in the region with regard to Arab Uprisings. Egypt appears to be the only country in the Arab Uprisings states that tread on a different path. It survived the revolutionary wave without neither collapse nor sustainably democratise. Hence was the idea of this research: how could one explain the Egyptian case? I attempt to analyse the Egyptian politics through the lenses of legitimacy. Thus, this thesis studies the legitimacy of the postcolonial Egyptian state. It aims to show that through studying legitimacy; the reasons and dynamics behind the regime change/stability and the underlying logic of political change in Egypt could be understood. To achieve this goal, this thesis analyses the concept of legitimacy and its application on Egypt’s contemporary history. Three basic sources of legitimacy are identified as the most crucial in terms of their impact of political change in Egypt: eudaemonic, institutional, and ideological legitimacy. I argue that legitimacy is linked to state-formation: The relative weights of the abovementioned legitimacy components vary from one state-formation’s phase to the other, as every phase structurally determines which component is more important than the other, or, in other words, the phase of state formation invites the relevant type of legitimacy component for the ruler to rely on. However each ruler indeed can choose the proper legitimacy type that fits the state-formation’s phase the country is going through, or avoid it and use, to the detriment of his rule, other legitimacy types. In this regard, Nasser created benchmarks of legitimacy that his predecessors found themselves obliged to, at least, not to ignore, otherwise facing the wrath of the people. Sadat and Mubarak attempted to reply more on institutional legitimacy to make for their decreasing levels of eudaemonic and ideological legitimacy. Although democratic legitimacy (a branch of institutional legitimacy) gained primacy after the Arab uprising in Egypt and the collapse of the Mubarak regime, many factors with the limitations of democratic legitimacy on the top of them caused the collapse of the political sphere after the brief democratic opening. Without a wide consensus on the state identity and the limits of the use of power, electoral democracy helps only to embody the deep divisions in the nation especially on the identity lines. This thesis thus argues that legitimacy, with its three components, is a pre-requisite to full sustainable democratisation.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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