Francesco Cavatorta
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Islamism and democracy
International perceptions
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The international dimension of the failed process of democratisation in Algeria indirectly addresses very important contemporary issues about the prospects of democracy in the Arab world. It is around the emergence of the FIS as the largest opposition movement in Algeria that the whole transition to democracy turned. The early 1990s attempt of the FIS to gain power through elections resonates in 2008, as both the academic and the policy-making communities are still grappling with the problematic relationship between Islamism and democracy. The emergence, the appeal and the electoral successes of the FIS in what can be considered free and fair elections both in 1990 and 1991 highlighted the practical difficulties for secular domestic actors and for the international community of applying traditional democratic standards to the Algerian events. It is very difficult not to see a very strong link between the cancellation of the elections, the ensuing repression of the FIS, and the explosion of violence.

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