The Diverse Role of Muslim Actors in Mali’s Democratic Consolidation: Fostering Plurality and Inhibiting Strong State Institutions
30 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2011
Date Written: February 4, 2010
The paper analyzes the role of Islamic actors in Mali’s democratization process, with particular focus on the years 1992 to 2008. While I show that religious actors did not determine democratic outcomes, the paper illustrates the variation with which they have affected processes of regime change and elucidate the political, legal and institutional conditions under which their role has been significant. The constitutional ban of political parties gave rise to the creation of a multitude of politically motivated Islamic associations. In consequence, the Malian political order deals with a trade-off with regard to the political role of Islamic actors: On the one hand, democratic institutions, such as the ban of religious political parties, high regulation of associations, and state-induced formal representation of Islamic authorities in the High Islamic Council foster plurality as well as important political debates by creating space for political influence of Muslim actors. On the other hand, these very institutional provisions shift political debates from the legislature into civil society, whereas formal democratic institutions as political parties and the parliament are hindered to become strong pillars of Malian democracy. Finally, the paper provides an analytical framework for the comparative study of religious actors in democratization processes.
Keywords: Muslim Actors, Democratization, Mali, Secularism
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