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Why are Islamists Popular?
Why are Islamists Popular?
If it's "difficult to gauge" why Islamist parties are popular, we can deduce that at least some of their supporters are motivated by an interest in good governance. In other words, some people support these groups because they're effective political parties who happen to be Islamists, and not the other way around.
Saturday, March 6,2010 16:30
by Posted by Shadi Hamid Democracy Arsenal

Commenting on a paper I co-wrote on Islamist engagement, Gregg Carlstrom wrote:

If it's "difficult to gauge" why Islamist parties are popular, we can deduce that at least some of their supporters are motivated by an interest in good governance. In other words, some people support these groups because they're effective political parties who happen to be Islamists, and not the other way around.

A couple of interesting things worth mentioning here: we don't really have a clear sense of why people vote for Islamist groups although anecdotal data, in abundance, suggests several important factors. It may very well be the case that the fact that Islamists are Islamist is incidental to why some vote for them.

However, it's difficult to disaggregate the Islamist factor from other variables, since the Islamist tag is a reliable signal for other things - that the candidate in question is honest, clean, and will take the time to meet you if you walk into his office (when I spent time in their offices, I noticed that Islamist MPs in Jordan always took the time to meet with constituents while secular politicians often couldn't be bothered. One former MP told me that he spent so much time meeting with constituents that it cost him his marriage). 

Over time, being Islamist has become much more than just being Islamist, if we understand the word in the narrow sense of someone who wants Islamic law to play a more prominent role in public policy. This has its corollary in the American context. We don't necessarily vote for Democrats because of their party label, but because their party label tells us something about the policies they're likely to advocate.

tags: Islamists / Islamist Parties / Political Parties / Islamist Groups / Islamist MPs / Public Policy
Posted in MB Understanding  
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