Non-Democratic Regimes (3rd Edition) (Comparative Government and Politics)

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These theoretical reflections have emerged from empirical research conducted for my Ph. Over the same period, both countries have also started to craft their immigration policy, with Morocco showcasing a fundamental policy shift in and Tunisia portraying a striking continuity in its immigration policy throughout the revolution. The within- and across-country comparative case studies on Morocco and Tunisia thus provide critical insights on immigration policy-making in the wake of diverging political transformations and beyond the usual scope of immigration policy theories.

The paper first reviews main immigration policy theories. It then outlines the conceptual stakes of this article by challenging dominant categorizations in migration research and reviewing the emerging literature to which this paper seeks to contribute. Second, the article dissects policy-making in Morocco and Tunisia. Finally, the paper confronts the empirical material with existing immigration policy theories to explore the role of political systems on immigration policy-making.

Explanations of immigration policy vary along two main dimensions: the factors of analysis considered, namely the emphasis on the role of ideas, interests or institutions in immigration policy-making; and the level of analysis adopted, namely the localization of the primary source of immigration policy within society, the state or the international arena. This approach locates the origin of immigration policy within society, and tends to reduce the state to a neutral arena captured by economic and societal interests.

Most prominently, Freeman , p. In contrast to political economy analyses, institutionalist explanations are closely tied to a political sociology of the state. Institutionalism grants the state partial autonomy from societal interests and focuses on inter-institutional dynamics and the fragmentation of state interests. Bureaucratic politics approaches highlight the role of turf wars - disputes between institutions over spheres of influence - in immigration policy-making, and of path dependency dynamics created by previous policy decisions.

A third set of theories emphasizes the historical context of immigration policy-making and focuses on the structural effects of ideas and institutions in constraining policy-makers. In this vein, Zolberg has analyzed how, in Western Europe and North America, changing national migration policies reflected the emergence of modern states, the international system, and capitalism between the 16th and the 20th centuries. Research inspired by globalization theories shifts these dynamics onto the international level and focuses on how global norms and institutions shape national immigration policy-making.

Similarly, Hollifield b argued that a dominant liberal ideology seeking to protect individual rights and to globalize national market economies limits nation states in their immigration policy-making autonomy. As none of these theories can claim to provide a freestanding account of immigration policy, most studies combine different theoretical insights to explain observed policy processes. For instance, Timmer and Williams use quantitative analyses and draw on Marxist and globalization theories to distill the economic factors and international policy diffusion mechanisms that led to immigration restrictions in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada and the US before the s; and Calavita joins a bureaucratic politics analysis with a pluralist approach in her study of the US Bracero Program through the lens of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Ultimately, most immigration policies - regardless of the political system in place - are likely determined by the dialectic between interests, institutions, and ideas evolving at the intersection of domestic and international spheres.

The crux is to specify the dynamics between factors and the relative weight of each of them. This is due to two interrelated assumptions that are widespread among migration researchers and policy-makers. This disregards not only the existence of autocracies as main migrant destinations - such as the Gulf countries -, but also the autocratic histories of countries such as Spain and Greece, and the existence of established democracies in Asia and Latin America, such as India and Brazil.

Structural explanations of how such emigration, diaspora and immigration policies are formed, and what different interests have to be negotiated in the process are thus largely missing. Only recently, researchers started to question the assumptions of mainstream immigration policy theories.

Barbara Geddes

In fact, autocratic and democratic features can be found in most political systems around the world. Instead of categorizing countries as either democratic or autocratic, a more fruitful approach is thus to look for autocratic and democratic policy processes and practices within each political system Glasius, This article seeks to integrate these nuances into the migration policy literature that still overwhelmingly operates with dichotomous regime classifications.

More importantly, however, the more or less democratic character of a state is just one of its defining features. As highlighted by Tilly , social sciences tend to focus on the differences in state formation while disregarding the fundamental similarities in the nature of modern statehood around the world.

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Because political regimes rarely match the ideal-types of democracy and autocracy, looking for ideal-typical democratic or autocratic immigration policy processes is a fundamentally flawed exercise. Morocco and Tunisia are two theoretically critical cases to study immigration regimes beyond the usual scope of immigration policy theories. This exclusive focus on emigration has waned, with immigration gaining increasing political salience, particularly in Morocco.

Currently, a second reframing process is taking place, in which Morocco and Tunisia are increasingly portrayed and also portray themselves as immigration countries. This has led to new public policies, but also to increased civil society activism and scientific interest in the topic. The growing political salience of immigration is, however, only partly rooted in changes on the ground: In Morocco, immigration from Africa and Europe has always existed in the context of education, pilgrimage, trade, or war. Since sub-Saharan migrants started to join Moroccan migration towards Europe in the mids, immigration to Morocco has also increased and diversified, even if overall numbers remain small.

Census data show moderately rising immigrant numbers - from 50, to 86, between and , representing respectively 0. Also here, census data show that immigrant numbers remain modest, increasing from 35, to 53, between and , i. However, census data does not capture the unprecedented immigration from Libya since , given that most Libyans remain in Tunisia on a tourist visa.


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Politically, Morocco and Tunisia followed strikingly different paths. In , popular protests led to a new constitution that granted more although still limited power to the parliament and government and enshrined new civil and political rights for Moroccans and foreigners Boukhars, ; Cubertafond, ; Vermeren, This gives rise to a double paradox: Tunisia has seen an important increase in immigration, but policies have remained stable. In contrast, Morocco set immigration on the political agenda and enacted fundamental policy changes despite only moderate growth in immigration.

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This is particularly striking considering the continuity in Moroccan political life compared to the regime change that Tunisia has experienced since These observations point to a disconnection between 1 the magnitude of immigration as a phenomenon, 2 its political treatment and the public policies developed to address it, and 3 the political, contextual developments within which migration and migration policy occur. How can we make sense of immigration policy-making in Morocco and Tunisia given that the most obvious determinants - a change of political actors or a change in migration patterns - seem to not account for the observed immigration policy dynamics?


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  • The systematic investigation of this empirical paradox will be the central object of another article. The following sections present the core insights of this analysis, focusing on those that are essential for the theoretical arguments elaborated further below. This article draws on my Ph. Interviews were conducted in French and either recorded and transcribed, or followed through extensive note-taking.

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    I also attended workshops and seminars on immigration policy during my stays in Rabat and Tunis to observe dynamics between actors and conduct another 50 informal conversations with additional respondents. Next to semi-structured interviewing, I did extensive online, library and archival research.

    I collected policy documents and institutional reports, minutes of parliamentary discussions, action plans and reports of local non-governmental organizations since the s. I also systematically screened the official bulletins gathering laws and decrees in Morocco and Tunisia since and built a database on immigration policy change over the 20th and 21st century.

    The most challenging task was to gather Moroccan and Tunisian immigration statistics, given that they are often inexistent, fragmented, contradictory or scattered across sources. In , Morocco passed its first immigration law since independence in The restrictive policy was overwhelmingly interpreted as a result of European pressure to control irregular migration. In parallel, however, an active civil society started denouncing these practices by naming and shaming the Moroccan government on the international scene - at times very successfully.

    The role of CSOs over that period is particularly noteworthy, given that they operated in a political context of semi-authoritarian rule. Interviews with representatives of these associations highlight that while they operated without legal status and were under constant police control, their activities were nonetheless tolerated within certain limits by the state. Taking international and national observers by surprise, Moroccan King Mohamed VI announced the launch of a new, human-rights based immigration policy on 10 September Its centerpiece was a regularization campaign, a premiere in the North African context, that granted legal status to nearly 26, irregular migrants, mainly Syrian and sub-Saharan refugees, European and sub-Saharan workers and family members living in Morocco for years CNDH, In December , a second regularization campaign was launched.

    The motives underlying this shift have left many puzzled, but the configuration of international priorities, national political developments, and specific institutional interactions provides some explanations. Indeed, since , King Mohamed VI has embarked on a pro-active Africa policy, characterized by multiple diplomatic visits, the signature of heavy trade deals and efforts to rejoin the African Union AU - which Morocco left in and successfully rejoined in January Rousselet, A few years down the line, the policy is in implementation.

    Refugees and regularized migrants have obtained stay permits, eased access to the labor market, education and public health care. Other changes are underway to facilitate the integration and social acceptance of immigrants. One of the reasons for these territorial inconsistencies is institutional: While the Migration Ministry is overseeing the new migration policy, its successful implementation depends on sectoral ministries such as the Ministry of Health, Education, Interior or Labor, for whom migration is not a priority. Also, the new policy has led to a mushrooming of migration-specific CSOs in Morocco that act as intermediaries between migrants and the state.

    This development has created issues of competition, cooptation, and legitimacy.

    13a. Comparing Governments

    It has also fragmented civil society, affecting its capacity to provide a robust counter-discourse to official discourse. Interviewees, however, highlighted that the main challenge is to integrate ad-hoc policy decisions into national legislation in order to protect the new policy from future backlashes. In Tunisia, the two main laws regulating immigration today date back to and and are waiting to be reformed. In , Tunisia restricted existing sanctions for irregular migration through law 04— From the outset, revolution and migration were intrinsically linked.

    Within the first few months of , the absence of Tunisian border controls resulted in a temporary hike of irregular emigration of Tunisians towards Italy and the much larger and prolonged arrivals of refugees, labor migrants and Libyan citizens from Libya see Boubakri, ; Natter, The political events of set migration on the public and political agenda - triggering two contradictory trends. On the one hand, the unprecedented increase in civil liberties prompted significant civil-society activism.

    On the other hand, the liberalization of the public sphere also led to racist backlashes against migrants.