The 2011 uprisings in North Africa provided Islamist parties with a significant opportunity to gain greater legitimacy and popularity through elections and present themselves as credible power competitors. The Islamists’ political engagement has been successful throughout the years and, to some extent, it contributed to enhancing general discourses on democracy in the region even though Islamist leaders have often failed on inclusivity. Yet, since 2011 Islamists have had some difficulties in preserving and consolidating the consensus gained over time. For several reasons, on some occasions their involvement in state dynamics proved disappointing for their supporters in North Africa. Besides, the region’s longstanding socio-economic structural weaknesses and the fragile process of democratic consolidation have not played in favor of Islamist parties, contributing to their progressive decline at both societal and political levels. More broadly, the rise and fall of Islamists in North Africa have contributed to the crystallization of tensions among the countries of the MENA region.
What is the current state of play of political Islam in North Africa, and what might it look like in the near future? How to assess the Islamist parties’ trajectory in the region since the 2011 upheavals? How could MENA dynamics impact this trajectory in the coming years? Are Islamist parties losing appeal in North Africa and, in case, for what reasons?
Youssef Cherif | Director, Columbia Global Centers, Tunis
Intissar Fakir | Senior Fellow and Director of North Africa and Sahel Program, Middle East Institute
Dalia Ghanem | Senior Analyst, Middle East and North Africa Region, European Union Institute for Security Studies
Olivier Roy | Professor and Scientific Adviser of the Middle East Directions Programme, European University Institute
Francesco Cavatorta | Professor of Political Science, Université Laval