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The Impasse of Political Transition : Three Generations and Two Scenarios


The qualitative political dynamic experienced by Arab societies since the beginning of 2011 has engendered political transformations with demographic dimensions, starting from Tunisia, passing through Egypt and Yemen, all the way to Libya, Syria, and even Morocco. In each of these countries, discussions have abounded regarding the young generation and their political role, following the flaring up of events that led to the destabilization and the overthrow of aging political regimes, along with their schemes to bequeath power to the second generation of the rulers’ offspring. The majority of these political regimes saw the clear hegemony of the « family » over official political action, and the « family » monopolized wealth, arms and politics ; such was the situation in Egypt, Yemen, and Libya, which were preceded by the Syrian regime, a forerunner of the project of political inheritance to the second generation of rulers in the Arab region.
The youth population appeared to take the initiative in the ongoing qualitative political movement, and it was able to garner strong political mobilization from broader and more diverse social groups. These young activists featured certain sociological and cultural characteristics, such as belonging to the urban middle class, as was noticeable in the Egyptian case. They benefited from their higher education and their fluency in foreign languages, which prepared them to reap maximum benefit from new media technologies, which were strongly employed for the purpose of assuring the success of the protest movements, and to launch these initiatives away from the gaze of the repressive state apparatus and the official position, which long discussed change and reform without presenting the least achievement on the ground.
The spread of education, as a major variable, also became a demographic and political component of this Arab dynamic, even in the case of Yemen where much was written on the limited penetration of education compared to the norm in the Arab world.
We are being faced with qualitative repercussions of these demographic transformations that have been experienced by Arab societies in the last decades due to the spread of education and its known ramifications, such as the employment of women, family planning, urban migration, the breaking down of traditional social values, and the spread of the nuclear family model. These combined repercussions allowed for the advancement of the « me » value among the young generation, which initiated the political action in more than one Arab case. This dynamic took place outside of the « patriarchal » political institutions, best represented by the Arab official political regimes and the Arab political parties, with their patriarchal values and despotic practices. These characteristics have even afflicted the opposition parties calling for change.

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Les opinions exprimées et les arguments avancés dans cet article demeurent l'entière responsabilité de l'auteur-e et ne reflètent pas nécessairement ceux du CETRI.