Why did Algeria and Libya suffer more from democratization than Tunisia and Egypt did?

Aug 2010
16,063
Welsh Marches
#11
There were elections in Libya, apparently of a resonably fair nature, in 2012, but the situation seems to be fairly chaotic because much of the country is effectively under the control of militias, and cities that rose up against Gaddafi are reluctant to give up their autonomy. But I'm sure there msut be people here who know a lot more about this than I do! Developing a proper democracy is a slow and difficult process because so much more is involved than merely holding elections.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,067
SoCal
#12
There were elections in Libya, apparently of a resonably fair nature, in 2012, but the situation seems to be fairly chaotic because much of the country is effectively under the control of militias, and cities that rose up against Gaddafi are reluctant to give up their autonomy. But I'm sure there msut be people here who know a lot more about this than I do! Developing a proper democracy is a slow and difficult process because so much more is involved than merely holding elections.
Do you think that Libya would have fared better had NATO sent a peacekeeping mission there after Gaddafi was toppled like they previously did with Kosovo?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,067
SoCal
#13
I don't think they had the required control to be honest. And leaned that way themselves/required the support etc
The part about lacking the required control might be accurate--though I certainly don't think that your second sentence here is accurate. After all, if the Algerian military sympathized with Islamists, they would have surely allowed the second round of the Algerian elections to be held and accepted the risk that this could result in an Islamist victory. The fact that they canceled the second round and thus sparked a decade-long civil war suggests that Algeria's military wasn't very fond of Islamists.
 
Nov 2010
7,547
Cornwall
#14
The part about lacking the required control might be accurate--though I certainly don't think that your second sentence here is accurate. After all, if the Algerian military sympathized with Islamists, they would have surely allowed the second round of the Algerian elections to be held and accepted the risk that this could result in an Islamist victory. The fact that they canceled the second round and thus sparked a decade-long civil war suggests that Algeria's military wasn't very fond of Islamists.
Maybe so but what about the governments that ran the military?

Either way Algeria seems to have gradually transformed into a much better country to do business with. Instead of a 'don't visit' site. I recently saw one of those train programmes with Griff Rees Jones where he travelled through Algeria by rail and visited a few historical sites.

I'm looking for ward to the day I can safely (fully) visit some of those historical towns I've read about in books like Huici Miranda's 'Historia Polical del Imperio Almohade'

...if I'm not too old by then.
 
#15
I am not monitoring the situation there but, at this point I have doubts that we can consider Libya a state, much less a democratic state, or in a path to democracy.
I'd say this actually nails the more fundamental answer to this question.

Egypt is a real nation state for obvious reasons of history, Tunisia is small enough to function as a nation state. Algeria and Libya are completely fictional states that is arbitrarily put together by colonial powers, made much worse because it's geographically vast AND without a clear dominant center. (For example, one COULD argue that the peripheries of China like Tibet and Xinjiang aren't an actual part of their nation-state, the problem is that the center is well over 90% of the population and clearly has a very strong bind as one.)

This means that naturally, the gravity of states like Egypt would bend towards staying together more than falling apart, while the reverse is true for Libya.

This is a major problem in the current world order in the sense that as the UN is constructed, basically the world disallow separation (or annexation/mergers.) yet at the same time there's a lot of loose ends resulting from the legacy of colonialism and various unfinished civil wars. It's all fine and dandy to talk how potentially those could be achieved by referendum and all, but that's just being intellectually dishonest to think that the various interest and institution (or lack there of.) at work would allow a real honest vote.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,383
San Antonio, Tx
#16
I lived in Tunisia from 1968-1970 and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. There are no vast amounts of petroleum in Tunisia and no major natural resources other than phosphates and date palms. Tunisia is fundamentally an agricultural country that has historically had difficulty growing enough wheat (cous-cous) to feed its population. Wheat-bearing ships from Houston appear to arrive in Tunis’ harbor every week.

Because Tunisia - roughly the size of the state of Louisiana - is not rich in valuable natural resources, it has had to make its own way in the world and to earn its living. The country - probably due to lots of Italian settlement - makes a great deal of wine most of which is probably exported to Italy and to France. The Tunisians have had to earn their own way to prosperity and without many natural resources, this is an iff-y thing even in good years.

The Tunisian government has invested heavily in education for its populace. They have done a pretty good job of it, too. So good, in fact, that the number of fairly-skilled Tunisians is high in comparison to its neighbors. This also means that the country does not have enough skilled jobs to meet the demand. Thus some Tunisians leave for, say, France, or Italy or elsewhere.

The lynchpin in earning foreign exchange in Tunisia is Tourism. It’s big business in Tunisia but it also suffered each time there is an act of terrorism in Tunisia or in one of its close neighbors. Algeria is quite stable these days, but Libya is a basket case.

I see Tunisia as the Maghreb’s best hope, but it is a delicate balancing act. It’s also no accident that the Tunisian Army is deplored on the Algerian and Libyan borders.
 
Likes: Futurist
Nov 2010
7,547
Cornwall
#17
I lived in Tunisia from 1968-1970 and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. There are no vast amounts of petroleum in Tunisia and no major natural resources other than phosphates and date palms. Tunisia is fundamentally an agricultural country that has historically had difficulty growing enough wheat (cous-cous) to feed its population. Wheat-bearing ships from Houston appear to arrive in Tunis’ harbor every week.

Because Tunisia - roughly the size of the state of Louisiana - is not rich in valuable natural resources, it has had to make its own way in the world and to earn its living. The country - probably due to lots of Italian settlement - makes a great deal of wine most of which is probably exported to Italy and to France. The Tunisians have had to earn their own way to prosperity and without many natural resources, this is an iff-y thing even in good years.

The Tunisian government has invested heavily in education for its populace. They have done a pretty good job of it, too. So good, in fact, that the number of fairly-skilled Tunisians is high in comparison to its neighbors. This also means that the country does not have enough skilled jobs to meet the demand. Thus some Tunisians leave for, say, France, or Italy or elsewhere.

The lynchpin in earning foreign exchange in Tunisia is Tourism. It’s big business in Tunisia but it also suffered each time there is an act of terrorism in Tunisia or in one of its close neighbors. Algeria is quite stable these days, but Libya is a basket case.

I see Tunisia as the Maghreb’s best hope, but it is a delicate balancing act. It’s also no accident that the Tunisian Army is deplored on the Algerian and Libyan borders.
Although 1970 is obviously a long time ago, in your view are the ISIs attacks in places like Tunisia:

a) Aimed by ISIS at ruining the economy, bringing down governemnt and hopefully taking over a state?

or

b) Just performed by some young nutters who think joining up with ISIS is a good idea and they need no other purpose than to kill westerners (for some reason), with the hotel/Tunis being easy targets?
 
Likes: Futurist

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,383
San Antonio, Tx
#18
Although 1970 is obviously a long time ago, in your view are the ISIs attacks in places like Tunisia:

a) Aimed by ISIS at ruining the economy, bringing down governemnt and hopefully taking over a state?

or

b) Just performed by some young nutters who think joining up with ISIS is a good idea and they need no other purpose than to kill westerners (for some reason), with the hotel/Tunis being easy targets?
Frankly, I do not know. I think Tunisia’s rather delicate and sensitive position as a small, rather non-violent (generallY) reputation means that Tunisia is permanently in the position of negotiating up and down with its neighbors. They are not wealthy enough to make their own way in the world without having to take concerns of others into account. This is probably a good thing but it is also a very insecure situation.

Tunisia has had its problems and difficulties of governance, and has not been a stranger to dictatorships even if of a milder variety.
 
Last edited:
Jun 2018
393
New Hampshire
#19
Not every nation and race of men is cut out for representative government. It is based upon a peoples innate disposition, and also upon culture and history. Middle Eastern nations, though at many points in world history have developed remarkably advanced civilizations (Iraq, Egypt, Persia etc...), are not cut out for representative government because it is not in their nature. Those nations have been governed by absolute rulers for more than 5,000 years and thus it is part of who they are as a people. China is the same way. The Chinese were governed by absolute rulers from that nation's beginning around 2000 BC, even unto the present day.

It is only with European descended peoples, (and to a lesser extent the Japanese who had a more or less feudal system of government) who have had a long history of representative government beginning with Athens and Rome, that republican forms of government are tenable. So it is thus not surprising that "democracy" (an atrocious form of government that the Founding Fathers despised by the way) has failed in the Middle East. Representative government is just not practical in a part of the world with no prior history of such a political phenomena.
 
Likes: Futurist
Aug 2010
16,063
Welsh Marches
#20
I don't see why Middle Eastern countries shouldn't be able to manage some form of more representative government, there are only two things standing in the way, (a) one the lid is taken off a dictatorial system the instituitiions are not in place to allow its development and there is likely to be chaos instead, (b) the elephant in the room, Islam, there are not only strong divisions within Islam but many will want to impose Islamic rule (and worse, partisan Islamic rule) of one kind or another that will bring any democratcic experiment to a rapid end, on the one person, one vote, once pattern.

I am very sceptical of the ideas so often put forward that the culture and history of certain people make them unfittted for democarcy or political freedom, it fails to take account of the effects of contingency in human history. If the course of history had turned out somewhat different ly, people would be arguing that the Japanese were incapable of a form of democratic goveremnent that was flourishing in China. The reason why there is o democracy in China is that it fell into the hands of a government that based its ideas on an anti-democratic western ideology, and has maintained power more recently by abandoing Marxist economic ideas and presenting itself as following tardition Chinese patterns of authoritarian government. If one loos at the changes that have taken place in China in the last 150 years, no sane perason would feel confident in imagining ehat will happen in the next 150 years, and rule out the possibility that the Chinese will develope their own form of democracy (not necessarily the same as the wester form). All in all, with regard to the evoiution of political institutions within different societies, accident often rules and societies are often much less trapped by their past than we tend to imagine. One must take account of the fact too that many people often have a vested interest in arguing that certain types of political organization are unsuited to their particular form of society.