Let them democratise themselves? The common dilemmas in the Mediterranean regarding the processes of democratic deepening and social transformation

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Joan Subirats

We are used to observing countries along the south shore of the Mediterranean with critical eyes regarding the effective working of their democratic institutions. We know that elections take place in those countries. We know that they have parliamentary institutions. We know that a plurality of parties that operate in the respective territories exist. But, in spite of everything, we doubt that all this is not, on many occasions, more virtual than real, more nominal than effective. And these comments often originate from the conviction that the countries on the north shore already have consolidated democracies, with full exercise of liberties and rights, with highly institutionalised representative assemblies, and with party systems that are capable of including the whole range of political options and which interaction also guarantees periodical processes of alternation in power. In this context, the relatively recent elections in Morocco or those held in Egypt in 2005, have been useful in demonstrating the limits of democratisation processes in the region, but also their encouraging progress.