Yemen’s party politics still growing [Archives:2003/02/Business & Economy]

January 13 2003

Political parties in Yemen continue to face great challenges in attempting to lead Yemen into modern economic times.
Expanding economic resources and utilizing the technological revolution for the development industry, economic growth and knowledge remain among the larger challenges.
In fact, the political multi-party system in Yemen is still in its early stage.
The emergence of political parties has come during a time of backwardness and weakness of the development process in its both political and social dimensions. Thus one cannot apply the terminology of a party in the full sense of the word to what is the appearance of all political parties and organizations.
Political parties in Yemen emerged publicly after the unification of Yemen in 1990 within a framework of emerging democratic programs based on a multi-party system, respecting others’ opinion and guaranteeing peaceful transfer of power via parliamentary elections.
The inception of political pluralism occurred in the womb of backwardness.
Among these characteristics are:
-Weakness of industry base in the country,
-A wide gap in social variations,
-Domination of fanatic traditions and customs over moderate behavior of the society,
-Wasting of local resources,
-Weakness of political allegiance to the state,
-Insufficiency of productive capitals, backwardness of production means, high unemployment and high rates of illiteracy.
The state has therefore tried to stabilize the approach of political pluralism amidst such complicated mine fields and a social climate nearly rejecting the partisan phenomenon, especially by individuals representing backwardness.
But winds of political change have contributed to the extending role of political parties and organizations in the parliamentary, presidential and local councils elections.
This has led to a relative marginalization of backward elements and encouraged organizations of the civil society and non-governmental organizations . This led to the formation of more than 20 political parties and organizations and dozens of professional, mass and unionist federations.
During the past 12 years, political parties have played an important role in bringing up development of the society politically, with the aim of salvaging it from backwardness and illiteracy.
The state worked to develop the infrastructure and organizations of civil society and rid itself of dualities in education curricula by merging scholastic institutes with government schools.
Despite such efforts, elements of backwardness continued to hinder orientation of the political parties towards modernizing the society, unification, and ending backwardness by increasing production and participation in the process of economic development.
With the expansion of popular participation in the referendum, the political pluralism experiment contributed, to a certain extent, to the appearance of a politicized society that in turn has reflected the positive impact of the society’s political development.
This new stage, however, has not been without certain elements that have tried to abort the experiment of political modernization and create crises before the democratic experiment in Yemen.
These elements tried to spread skepticism in the avail of political pluralism. When they have failed in that, they perpetrated political assassination of party activists, the latest of whom was Jarallah Omer, the assistant secretary-general of the Yemen Socialist Party.
The capacity enjoyed by party leaderships and representatives of civil society remained a more important factor in pushing people to be in harmony with the country’s continuous changes.
After 12 years of the parties participating in political development, Yemen seems capable of surmounting the so-called crises of identity, legitimacy and popular participation.
This is especially so because a large number of people are willing to join political parties and ready to take part in making decisions and move to a modern civil society heading for development.
Thus the partisan phenomenon in Yemen, through the peaceful transfer of power, is capable of taking part in solving the crises of development.