Local Politics in Jordan and Morocco

Strategies of Centralization and Decentralization

Janine A. Clark

Columbia University Press

Local Politics in Jordan and Morocco

Pub Date: April 2018

ISBN: 9780231183581

416 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£54.00

Pub Date: April 2018

ISBN: 9780231545013

416 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£54.00

Local Politics in Jordan and Morocco

Strategies of Centralization and Decentralization

Janine A. Clark

Columbia University Press

In recent years, authoritarian states in the Middle East and North Africa have faced increasing international pressure to decentralize political power. Decentralization is presented as a panacea that will foster good governance and civil society, helping citizens procure basic services and fight corruption. Two of these states, Jordan and Morocco, are monarchies with elected parliaments and recent experiences of liberalization. Morocco began devolving certain responsibilities to municipal councils decades ago, while Jordan has consistently followed a path of greater centralization. Their experiences test such assumptions about the benefits of localism.

Janine A. Clark examines why Morocco decentralized while Jordan did not and evaluates the impact of their divergent paths, ultimately explaining how authoritarian regimes can use decentralization reforms to consolidate power. Local Politics in Jordan and Morocco argues that decentralization is a tactic authoritarian regimes employ based on their coalition strategies to expand their base of support and strengthen patron-client ties. Clark analyzes the opportunities that decentralization presents to local actors to pursue their interests and lays out how municipal-level figures find ways to use reforms to their advantage. In Morocco, decentralization has resulted not in greater political inclusivity or improved services, but rather in the entrenchment of pro-regime elites in power. The main Islamist political party has also taken advantage of these reforms. In Jordan, decentralization would undermine the networks that benefit elites and their supporters. Based on extensive fieldwork, Local Politics in Jordan and Morocco is an important contribution to Middle East studies and political science that challenges our understanding of authoritarian regimes’ survival strategies and resilience.
Clark’s pioneering study of municipal politics, decentralization, and democratization in Morocco and Jordan finally concentrates on the massively understudied yet critical arena of local politics. She explores whether decentralization reinforces state control, leads to elite capture, offloads social welfare costs, or allows new opposition forces to grow. The picture of Middle East politics is greatly enhanced by this exhaustively researched book. Diane Singerman, American University
In this carefully designed and beautifully executed investigation into trajectories of centralization and decentralization in the Middle East, Clark provides a masterful account of why Morocco and Jordan diverged in their approach to municipal politics. Her book fills a gap in research literature between accounts of authoritarian politics at the level of regimes and the far sparser literature on local-level politics. It will be of interest to scholars and students of the Middle East, comparative authoritarianism, and municipal politics. Local Politics in Jordan and Morocco is a welcome and significant contribution. Steven Heydemann, Smith College
With this fascinating work, Janine A. Clark fills a major gap in the understanding of the practice of decentralization. Featuring an excellent literature review and rich archival research and interviews, Local Politics in Jordan and Morocco makes a significant contribution to political science and policy literature. Mona Harb, American University of Beirut
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Coalition Building and the Social Relations That Support Authoritarian Regimes
2. Centralization and “Decentralization” in Jordan
3. Decentralization, Co-optation, and Regime Legitimation in Morocco
4. The Destabilizing Effects of Centralization
5. Elite Capture and Regime Stabilization in Morocco
6. Morocco’s Opposition Party, the PJD
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Janine A. Clark is associate professor of political science at the University of Guelph. She is the author of Islam, Charity, and Activism: Middle-Class Networks and Social Welfare in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen (2004) and coeditor of Economic Liberalization, Democratization, and Civil Society in the Developing World (2000).