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The Struggle for Constitutional Power


  • 6 tables
  • Page extent: 340 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.56 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521124416)

For nearly three decades, scholars and policymakers have placed considerable stock in judicial reform as a panacea for the political and economic turmoil plaguing developing countries. Courts are charged with spurring economic development, safeguarding human rights, and even facilitating transitions to democracy. How realistic are these expectations, and in what political contexts can judicial reforms deliver their expected benefits? This book addresses these issues through an examination of the politics of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, the most important experiment in constitutionalism in the Arab world. The Egyptian regime established a surprisingly independent constitutional court to address a series of economic and administrative pathologies that lie at the heart of authoritarian political systems. Although the Court helped the regime to institutionalize state functions and attract investment, it simultaneously opened new avenues through which rights advocates and opposition parties could challenge the regime. The book challenges conventional wisdom and provides insights into perennial questions concerning the barriers to institutional development, economic growth, and democracy in the developing world.

• Provided the first book-length study (in English) of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, the most important court in the Arab World • Provides an analysis of the barriers to democratization, economic development, and judicial reform in Egypt, the Arab World, and the developing world in general • Offered the first comprehensive analysis of constitutional dynamics in non-democratic states


1. Introduction: law versus the state; 2. The politics of domination: law and resistance in authoritarian states; 3. The establishment of the Supreme Constitutional Court; 4. The emergence of constitutional power (1979–90); 5. The rapid expansion of constitutional power (1991–7); 6. Executive retrenchment and an uncertain future (1998–2005); 7. Law, development, and democracy: a critical appraisal; Appendix A. SCC justices and commissioners; Appendix B. Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt; Appendix C. Law 49/1979 governing the Supreme Constitutional Court; Appendix D. Figures on Supreme Constitutional Court rulings; Bibliography.


'The revision of a doctoral dissertation accepted by the University of Washington, Professor Tamir Moustafa's The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics and Economic Development in Egypt is a model of outstanding scholarly research. This book deals with an important topic, and Moustafa does it justice. Not only does this volume constitute a comprehensive analysis of political and economic change in Egypt during the past 40 years, but it suggests new directions for scholarly research for students of comparative law and legal systems. No specialist in the fields specified can afford to ignore this important study.' Law and Politics Book Review

'This is an important book, to be read by scholars and students of comparative constitutionalism and constitutional democracy. Moustafa addresses fundamental questions such as whether democracy is a necessary prerequisite for effective judicial power. He challenges the common assumption that courts in authoritarian states are pawns of the regime and obstacles to the realization of minority rights. … Highly recommended.' Choice

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