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Serida Lucrezia Catalano, "Islamists and the regime: Applying a new framework for analysis to the case of Family Code reforms in Morocco," Party Politics, 19 (May 2013), 408-431. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol19/issue3/ ]

First paragraph:
This paper develops a theoretical framework for analyzing the strategic interaction between Islamists -- pragmatic and dogmatic -- and the regime when Shari'a-based issues are negotiated. I advance the new notion that pragmatists might be responsive to the Islamist electorate. Within the framework I generate the hypothesis that, if the regime promotes substantive reforms and the Islamist electorate supports them, then the internal cohesiveness of Islamist parties is weakened. In the case of Family Code reforms in Morocco, empirical analysis confirms that Islamists' change of strategy in 2003 -- from opposing to not opposing the reforms -- was due to changed preferences within the electorate in favour of reform. This change in preferences was matched by deep divisions within the Islamists of the Parti de la Justice et du De´veloppement and had dramatic repercussions upon the internal cohesiveness of the party.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1. Preferences on Family Code over time.
Figure 2. Proxies for Islamist electorate's preferences over time.
Table 1. Attitudes towards political, educational and economic equality in Morocco before and after 9/11.
Table 2. Variations in attitudes towards political and educational equality in Morocco (2001-6).
Table 3. Confidence in atheist politicians in Morocco before and after 9/11.

Last Paragraph:
This paper is a first attempt to illustrate the complex dynamics that run between electoral preferences and Islamists' behaviour when Shari'a-based issues are tabled for negotiation. Further studies in this direction, extended both to other Middle Eastern countries and to other 'gray zones', would enrich our understanding of the implications of Islamist parties' inclusion within the political sphere and should constitute an agenda for future research. The fact that responsiveness to the electorate was a mechanism at work for Moroccan Islamists suggests that Islamist parties are very likely not dissimilar to Christian democrats or Socialist parties in Europe and they could undergo a similar moderation process under opportune conditions. Furthermore, beyond throwing light on the moderating mechanisms Islamists are likely to go through, these studies would contribute to clarifying the intricate relationship between social modernization dynamics and the prospects of democratization in the MENA.

Last updated November 2013