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Why Parties in Morocco: Political Party Formation and Development Under Monarchy Open Access

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Why do political parties form in authoritarian settings where they cannot contest executive power? In this dissertation, I construct a theory of political party formation and development in such settings. I argue that political parties in such regimes form to contest political discourse and practice, and develop in ways that are intricately related to these formation processes. In order to test my theory, I employ a comparative-historical analysis to explain the formation and development of four major political parties in Morocco and one social movement organization that did not form a political party – the Istiqlal Party, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), the Popular Movement (MP), the Party of Justice and Development (PJD), and the Justice and Spirituality Movement (JSM). The methodology consists of: 1) in-depth interviews with party cadres and leadership, state officials, and independent observers, 2) participant-observation of different party activities, 3) and content and discourse analysis of media and archival documents. Theoretically, the dissertation draws attention to the ideational and symbolic incentives for political party formation and development. It also sheds light on the aspirations and abilities of parties that know they have a minimal chance of winning electoral office to shape or influence the debate. Empirically, the dissertation examines the history and trajectory of party formation for an Arab World where Islamist parties are dominant, and few institutional political actors are slated for future roles. Understanding the party-development history and trajectory of Moroccan parties yields valuable insights for social research on the Arab World.

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