The Failed Management of a Dying Regime: Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's National Democratic Party, and the January 25 Revolution

By Heiss, Andrew | Journal of Third World Studies, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview
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The Failed Management of a Dying Regime: Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's National Democratic Party, and the January 25 Revolution


Heiss, Andrew, Journal of Third World Studies


INTRODUCTION

On December 17, 2010, a Tunisian vegetable vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi was approached by a government market inspector, who promptly confiscated his equipment and merchandise, slapped him, and made him a public spectacle. Bouazizi was forced to leave high school early to help support his family and, because of the weak Tunisian economy, he was unable to find legal employment for years, in his desperation, he had resorted to illegally selling vegetables. The next day, in protest of the decrepit state of the Tunisian economy and his own hopeless personal future, Bouazizi lit himself on fire in a public square. He died of his injuries 18 days later. Bouazizi's desperate self-immolation helped trigger a massive popular uprising in Tunisia, resulting in a military coup and the flight of the longstanding dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben All.

Tunisia's dire economic and political situation is not unique in the Middle East. From Morocco to Iraq, Middle Eastern countries suffer from an ever-widening rich-poor gap, heavy loans from international financial institutions, a dearth of economic and social opportunity, and entrenched dictators infamous for mismanaging economic resources. Despite this, many international relations scholars and Middle East experts saw the Tunisian revolution as an isolated event--something that had no chance of spreading to other nations. When asked if the Tunisian uprising would launch a revolutionary cascade through the rest of the region, Stephen Walt, a noted international relations professor at Harvard, responded, "Color me skeptical."

However, on January 25,2011, experts were proven wrong. A loose

coalition of Egyptian opposition movements began a protest that eventually exploded into a peaceful revolution with millions of participants. Egypt--long the powerhouse and cultural center of the Middle East, and long perceived as a bastion of stability in a dynamic region--took to the streets amidst violent police opposition and, in just 18 days, forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down as president.

In the weeks since the January 25 revolution, dozens of explanations have been posited for Mubarak's downfall. Political scientists, diplomats, economists, sociologists, and even international aid workers have proposed theories to explain the economic, political, historical, and social causes of the Egyptian revolution. Despite the plethora of interdisciplinary theories in the press and in academia, few--if any--have analyzed M ' the light of managerial dynamics and behavior,ubarak s resignation in

In addition to a ripe political environment, horrible economic conditions, and a mobilized and angry population, Mubarak's fall from power can be attributed to his failure as a public manager. This paper analyzes Mubarak's managerial strategy throughout the course of his presidency by (I) reviewing the structure of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and Mubarak's relationship with it; (2) analyzing the foundational principles and assumptions of his strategy, both as the leader of Egypt and as the chairman of the NDP; and (3) tracing the application of that strategy and determining its effectiveness in confronting "the management challenge" over a period of 30 years.

THE PURPOSE OF AUTHORITARIAN POLITICAL PARTIES

Political parties are a fundamental institution in ruling regimes throughout the world, regardless of the precise form of government. Pluralistic democracies like the US, Europe, and others use political parties to mobilize their populations around important ideological beliefs. Political parties generally allow a nation's population to have a voice in their government. Parties are also often the means for rising to (or falling from) electoral power--politicians appeal to their party base to gain support. Additionally, parties allow regimes to organize disparate elements in society in order to maintain political order during periods of dramatic socioeconomic change--they are a key prerequisite for political stability and longevity.

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