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V-Dem Lunch Seminar with Jan Claudius Völkel

Research profile seminar

Dr Jan Claudius Völkel, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, presents the paper: The role of national parliaments in the Arab transformation processes.


The Arab Uprisings of 2011 also triggered hope for increased relevance of national parliaments across the Arab World. Seen until then as mere "rubber stamps" that just approved the governments´ decisions and granted their autocratic rulers a semblance of democracy, they now had the chance to grow into meaningful actors that also contributed to the course of developments. However, with the notable exception of Tunisia, no Arab legislature was indeed able to take up this important role; most of them remained in a subordinate position to their rulers instead.

In this lecture, Jan Völkel will present results of his two-year EU funded research project that he conducted on the parliaments of Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. While in Tunisia the Majlis Nuwwab al-Sha´b gained a remarkable level of influence indeed, parliaments in Jordan, Morocco, and particularly Egypt remained meaningless especially in their control function vis-à-vis the government. This has been the case mainly because the incumbent regimes elaborated a broad set of measures to keep the legislatures under their control; such measures included tailor-made electoral systems, insufficient funding and lack of competent staff in the parliamentary administrations, and outright interference into parliamentary processes by the security forces. Yet, despite those weaknesses, parliaments even in hardline Arab autocracies still have a role to play. What their main purposes are, how they work and how they could be strengthened, will be among the main questions of this lecture.

Lecturer: Dr Jan Claudius Völkel is Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Institute for European Studies (2017-2019), and regional coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI, since 2008). He was DAAD longterm lecture in Political Science at Cairo University (2013-2017) and has conducted research and field study trips in more than ten MENA countries. Since 2016, he is selected member of the Arab-German Young Academy for Sciences and Humanities (AGYA).

Date: 6/14/2019

Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Categories: Social Sciences

Location: B336, Stora Skansen

Contact person: Natalia Stepanova

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