PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation addresses two interrelated questions about mobilization and electoral politics among Islamists in the Muslim-majority world. A fundamental question in the study of Islamist political parties regards the conditions under which they will fully participate in electoral politics and integrate into electoral regimes. Because many—perhaps even most—Islamist parties emerged out of a broader social and religious movement in non-democratic political environments; there was little incentive to publicly declare allegiance to democratic norms and institutions when ruling elites made political democracy an impossibility. When opportunities for electoral participation emerged in the global shift toward more electoral regimes—if not democracies—Islamist groups had to make decisions about forming parties and how intensely to participate in elections. Chapter 2 reviews several expectations about party-level and regime-level inputs that may have caused Islamist parties to limit their participation in elections. I then rely on a set theoretic approach to test the relevance of each of the causal pathways. I find strong support for the hypothesis that the combination of parties that grew directly out of social and religious movements rather than merely adopting an association with these movements after their formation in combination with uncompetitive electoral institutions are nearly sufficient for parties to avoid fully participating in national elections. These results point to the relevance of this—their antecedent organization structure—highly salient and frequently overlooked dimension of variance among Islamist political parties. Over the last three decades both Islamist political parties and Islamist terrorist organizations have proliferated across the Muslim-majority world. Non-democratic regimes often argue that restrictions on Islamist political parties are necessary to curtail levels of Islamist violence, while these parties argue that without opportunities to participate, Islamist supporters may be more likely to turn to violent forms of mobilization. Scholars generally agree that the freedoms of association granted under political democracy will facilitate the organization of violent groups. In chapter 3, I present a theoretical discussion, based on the demands and preferences of Islamists themselves, that argues that opportunities for governance at the subnational level will condition this effect on levels of Islamist violence. Drawing on data from states where Islamist parties are organized and utilizing disaggregated measures of democracy, this hypothesis is tested quantitatively. I find support for the notion that only when there are not opportunities for subnational governance are increasing levels of free association rights are associated with increasing levels of violence. When there are opportunities for subnational governance, there is no relationship between free association rights and levels of violence. These findings highlight the demands of Islamist parties and the potential of subnational governance as a means of disincentivizing Islamist violence. The relationship between democratization and Islamism has traditionally been analyzed through an examination of either Islamist civil society or violent Islamist groups; the former, the argument goes, needs to “moderate” and the latter needs to “deradicalize”. However, Islamist civil society and Islamist violent groups compete over control over the same legitimizing symbols in Islam as well as over support from individuals sympathetic to Islamist ideas in both the populace and the state. Chapter 4 is an extended case study of the process of democratization in Indonesia and the varying relationships that Islamist civil society and violent groups had with each other and the state through this process. I divide the process of democratization into three pieces: the pre-transition phase, the initial transition phase, and the consolidation phase. I then trace the evolution of Islamist civil society into normalized political parties and the rise and demise of violent Islamist groups through these three phases.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Government and Public Policy