Globalisation and the challenge of democracy in Arab North Africa

  • Shahida El-Baz CODESRIA


Democratization processes have emerged recently as an essential component of globalization and thus, have been paramount in its discourse, and as a political prerequisite for integrating developing countries in the global market. The emphasis, however, has been on liberal democracy. The paper argues that the very process of globalization based on unequal global power relations and the externally formulated policies imposed on developing countries of the south are neither democratic nor an expression of their authentic needs and interests. In this respect globalization represents a denial of democracy on the global level. Meanwhile, the early and involuntary adoption of structural adjustment programmes by globalized countries of the south, with their socially polarizing impact, have enhanced the exclusion of greater numbers of the people from economic, social, and political processes and led the already undemocratic governments to adopt a more authoritarian praxis to enforce unfriendly globalization policies. A nominal liberal democracy was adopted only to bring the globalized economic elite to power to the further exclusion and marginalization of the majority of the population. The paper then discusses the debate by African and Arab intellectuals on the different types of democracy and their relevance to Arab North African societies.

Africa Development Vol. 30(4) 2005: 1-33

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eISSN: 0850-3907