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WCED Lecture. “After the Revolution: The Varied Fates of Former Oppositions in Transitions to Democracy.”

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 S. University

In the study of democratization, it is the revolutions that bring down dictatorships and lead to open, contested elections that typically attract the most attention. Yet in most cases these “founding” elections are only the beginning of an arduous political transition, one that is by no means certain to lead to a consolidated democracy. In this talk, Templeman considers a key aspect of this transition, the development of a country’s party system after a founding election brings new rulers to power. There is wide variation in the fates of these “first incumbents”: some quickly come to dominate the new party system, building large advantages over all electoral competitors and retaining power for decades, while others rapidly lose support and are tossed out by voters in the next election.

Templeman will discuss several factors that contribute to this variation in incumbent duration, including the relative organizational capacity and brand appeal of the new ruling party, its degree of influence over the bureaucracy and security forces and the new constitutional “rules of the game,” and even the type of executive—presidential versus parliamentary—that is adopted. He will illustrate these factors in the context of Egypt, where the long-time opposition Muslim Brotherhood has in the last year taken power by winning the first elections. The comparative evidence suggests that, contrary to some alarmist views about the rise of Islamist parties in the Middle East, the Muslim Brotherhood is not likely to dominate Egyptian politics for decades, and that the prospects for the emergence of a stable, multi-party system there are surprisingly good.

Kharis Templeman is a 2012-13 Research Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies. He is a graduate of the University of Rochester (B.A. 2002) and the University of Michigan (Ph.D. 2012). His primary research interests include democratization, party system development in newly-contested regimes, and political institutions, with a special focus on the states of East and Southeast Asia. His dissertation examined the origins and decline of dominant party systems around the world, in which incumbent parties hold power for an extraordinary period of time by regularly winning contested elections. Other current research includes work on the effects of regime change on military spending and alliances, and on constitutional design for divided societies.

Kharis Templeman (PhD Political Science ‘12), WCED Research Fellow, U-M