Forecasts about the Mediterranean in terms of economic, social and human development are premised on a critical assumption: the continuation, mutatis mutandis, of the status quo in political and governance terms. Indeed over the last decades, not only have the regimes in the southern Mediterranean demonstrated a remarkable resilience, but also the states have enjoyed a situation of overall stability achieved through a number of skilfully arranged reform measures. Yet this status quo does not appear to be sustainable in the decades ahead because of the cumulative effect of the multiple challenges confronting the countries of the region. By drawing a critical distinction between short-term stability and long-term sustainability, it is argued that in the long run it will become increasingly difficult to sustain the current configuration of state power against the backdrop of deteriorating socio-economic conditions and above all of increased domestic unrest. First, the paper explores the changes that have taken place in the last two decades and that have contributed to creating the current situation of apparent stability. Then, it moves on to assess the conditions under which this situation may become unsustainable owing to the emergence of challenges in the political, economic, social and external domains. This exercise aims at presenting a number of stylised scenarios on the future of the region.
Documento prodotto nell'ambito del progetto MedPro (Mediterranean Prospects), finanziato dal settimo Programma quadro dell'Unione europea. Versione rivista pubblicata in: Silvia Colombo and Nathalie Tocci (eds), The Challenges of State Sustainability in the Mediterranean, Roma, Nuova Cultura, settembre 2011, p. 15-58 (IAI Research Paper 3).
1. The concept of sustainability and a way of assessing it
1.1 The rationale of the work package on geo-politics and governance
1.2 Sustainability and its determinants: Political capital and legitimacy
2. Factors of change and continuity in the Mediterranean region
2.1 Stability vs. sustainability
2.2 The reform effort and its outcomes
2.3 Mediterranean political systems: Between liberalisation and de-liberalisation
2.4 Conflicts and the role of external actors
3. Future challenges to the sustainability of the state in the Mediterranean region
3.1 The question of succession and the nature of opposition
3.2 The impact of exogenous crises on state sustainability
3.3 Three scenarios for the Mediterranean region in 2030