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Back Door Democratization? Apolitical Associations in the Middle East
Unformatted Document Text:  20 The absence of functioning political parties after 1957 left a void in Jordanian political life, which eventually came to be filled, in part, by a range of professional associations including unions of doctors, engineers and lawyers. Almost immediately following the restriction on political parties the doctors’ and lawyers’ associations, in particular, began to fill the gap left by political parties, in undertaking political activities underground, under the guise of purely professional associations. Furthermore, these associations were (and still are), themselves, democratic. Internal management of the professional associations was based on free, fair, and competitive elections – elections that were usually watched by the Jordanian public at large. 48 While some argue that advocacy NGOs detract from the democratization process because they are ill-equipped to advocate for a large, broad coalition of interests, the professional associations in Jordan do not have this problem. 49 Rather, the Jordanian professional associations are not only very stable, deeply entrenched bodies in Jordanian society, but also because of their sheer numbers and horizontal nature as a whole they do tend to take on tasks and interests outside of their individual professions. Furthermore, Jordanian civil society consists of both various professional syndicates that together form a union of syndicates that is considered “in partial confrontation with the state” as well as many social and welfare associations that serve a separate, non-confrontational function. 50 48 Ibrahim, “Civil Society and Prospects for Democratization in the Arab World,” 42. 49 Vickie Langohr, “Too Much Civil Society, Too Little Politics? Egypt and Other Liberalizing Arab Regimes,” in Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Regimes and Resistance, ed. Marsha Pripstein Posusney and Michele Penner Angrist (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2005), 194. 50 Peter Gubser, “The Impact of Ngos on State and Non-State Relations in the Middle East,” Middle East Policy 9, no. 1 (2002): 142.

Authors: Yerkes, Sarah.
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20
The absence of functioning political parties after 1957 left a void in Jordanian
political life, which eventually came to be filled, in part, by a range of professional
associations including unions of doctors, engineers and lawyers. Almost immediately
following the restriction on political parties the doctors’ and lawyers’ associations, in
particular, began to fill the gap left by political parties, in undertaking political activities
underground, under the guise of purely professional associations. Furthermore, these
associations were (and still are), themselves, democratic. Internal management of the
professional associations was based on free, fair, and competitive elections – elections
that were usually watched by the Jordanian public at large.
48
While some argue that advocacy NGOs detract from the democratization process
because they are ill-equipped to advocate for a large, broad coalition of interests, the
professional associations in Jordan do not have this problem.
49
Rather, the Jordanian
professional associations are not only very stable, deeply entrenched bodies in Jordanian
society, but also because of their sheer numbers and horizontal nature as a whole they do
tend to take on tasks and interests outside of their individual professions. Furthermore,
Jordanian civil society consists of both various professional syndicates that together form
a union of syndicates that is considered “in partial confrontation with the state” as well as
many social and welfare associations that serve a separate, non-confrontational
function.
50
48
Ibrahim, “Civil Society and Prospects for Democratization in the Arab World,” 42.
49
Vickie Langohr, “Too Much Civil Society, Too Little Politics? Egypt and Other Liberalizing Arab
Regimes,” in Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Regimes and Resistance, ed. Marsha Pripstein Posusney
and Michele Penner Angrist (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2005), 194.
50
Peter Gubser, “The Impact of Ngos on State and Non-State Relations in the Middle East,” Middle East
Policy 9, no. 1 (2002): 142.


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