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Welfare and democracy

February 27, 2014 - 5:26:41 am
How does the democratic transition takes place in the Arab world? Do oil revenue states impede the transition or transformation? Is there an exception? 

‘Oil revenue’ states is a term that applies to countries where the national budget depends primarily on revenues from oil exports. These states usually own or control their oil revenues, as defined by Ali Khodeir in his book. 

In these states, (countries of the Gulf, Libya and other oil revenue states), oil revenues are used to reward people loyal to the regime. If they do not demonstrate loyalty, they are denied rewards. Violence is also used to punish the opposition so that regimes can continue to live, along with their social and political alliances. 

Even after the Arab Spring, and since the independence era of most Arab and GCC states, there seems to have no significant changes in terms of concept and application. That is why instead of complaining, it is better to light a candle and look for solutions to set the ground for work. 

Democracy, as experience from Arab Spring countries has taught us, is not the magic wand that can solve all chronic problems. Democracy needs a key. The gate to democracy cannot be opened unless all other gates are opened, or opened simultaneously with it, according to Arab thinker George Tarabishy. 

Tarabishy focuses more on the soil where democracy is required to take root and grow by spreading a democracy-friendly culture than on its mechanisms. This means helping people understand the meaning of democracy even before they go to poll. 

The real battle lies in confronting the economic culture, where modernisation, knowledge-building, investment in higher education, raising levels of awareness and thinking should be adopted, which will eventually lead to an increase in political, economic and social demands.    

Elections in Arab Spring countries is one example. They were least representative of all social segments. The management of states has been dependent on exclusion, banishing others, taking over power, and monopolising it with decisions to serve certain individuals and groups. 

Eventually, a coup has happened. Military leaders and corrupt people have come to power again. The lesson we have learned in the past years following uprisings is that democracy as a culture has to come before the ballot — always.

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