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Civil society in hybrid regimes: trade union activism in post-2003 Iraq
journal contributionposted on 2021-01-01, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan
This article explores the relationship between hybrid regimes and civil society. It examines the extant debate between ‘neo-Tocquevilleans’ and their opponents over whether or not a robust civil society portends democratic transition and consolidation. It demonstrates the limits of these two models by arguing that civil society in hybrid regimes can in fact agitate against the state, advocate for democratic freedoms and achieve significant political reforms even when these do not lead to broader democratization. To demonstrate, this article documents the case of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions through 15 years of complex Iraqi politics, from the 2003 US-led intervention and during the incumbency of Prime Minister’s Maliki (2006–2014) and Abadi (2014–2018). By analysing primary materials produced by and about the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, it finds that this case holds important lessons for those seeking to understand the complex interface between civil society and the state in hybrid regimes.