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Volume :9 Issue : 35 1983      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

POLITICAL MODERNIZATION IN NORTH YEMEN

Auther : By: Dr. Mohammad I. Al-Hulwah

Recently the subject of political modernization has occupied the attention of political scientists.  Particularly after the Lebanese crisis of 1975 many Arab political scientists have started to examine the impact and effects of social and economic changes on political stability.  During my visit to North Yemen in the summer of 1983 and from my reading of Yemen contemporary history, I have noticed the increase of the gap between economic and social progress and political development.   Unless the Government of North Yemen pays more attention to the political modernization and exerts more efforts in building ideological political structure, Yemen may face a political crisis similar to the one in Lebanon.

The framework utilized in this study is Samuel P. Huntington’s approach, which he presents, in his well known book, Political Order In Changing Societies.  Focus has been put on his model: Changes in Urban-Rural Power and Stability”, with emphasis on the first and second phases (Traditional stability and modernization take-off).

To apply Huntington’s model we have distinguished between two stages in Yemen’s political modernization.  The first stage from 1918 when Yemen became independent after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire until the collapse of the Imamate and the establishment of the Republic in 1962.  One remarkable finding is that although Yemen was a traditional society under the Imamate, contradictory to Huntington’s hypothesis, it suffered from political instability.  Many political opposition groups were active during the first stage, and the final outcome of these activities was the revolution of September, 1962.

The second stage in Yemen’s political modernization (modernization take-off) started from September 1962.  Now Yemen is still in this stage.  During this stage cities and economic activities have grown; a new middle class has started to emerge, and the conflict between traditional values and modern ones has taken new dimensions in Yemeni society.    But the process of political modernization has been impeded by the absence of sources of legitimacy: Ideology and political structures.

Recent efforts by Yemeni Government to develop ideology and build political structures through the “National charter”, “People’s Conference” and “People’s Council” are not enough to build a solid base for legitimacy.  However they represent a step, and only one step toward stability.

 

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