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Boris Yeltsin helped bring down the former Soviet Union in the 1990s and was supported by many Russian liberals, but he never saw the need to create a political party and hoped to survive on his own charisma.Existing liberal groups squabbled among themselves and failed to form a single, durable party.This was not just a matter of selecting cadres and promoting an ideology; they also lived among the poor and would often provide social services directly to constituents.Political parties prosper because they stand for something: not just opposition to dictatorship, but a positive program for economic growth, social assistance, or help for farmers.The reality TV star, along with her hunky beau Younes Bendjima and a group of friends, has spent the last few days touring breathtaking locations.Their stops have included the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World as well as El Gouna, a modern resort town on Egypt’s Red Sea.Both Lenin and Mao were master organizers, and succeeded in making the connection to the countryside.This is something that has eluded many young liberal activists both in the period Huntington was describing, and at the present moment.
The candidate closest to this profile was Mohamed El Baradei, the Noble Peace Prize-winning former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose sputtering campaign ended last January.
The political scientist Samuel Huntington in his 1968 book Political Order in Changing Societies noted that revolutions are never made by the poor; they are made by upwardly mobile, urban middle class activists whose hopes and expectations are thwarted by the existing political system.
Students invariably play a key role in such uprisings.
Similarly, the young idealists in Ukraine who supported Viktor Yushchenko during Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution did not go on to create a cohesive political party, and the Orange coalition itself fell apart amidst infighting between Yushchenko and prime minister Iulia Timoshenko.
By contrast, Islamist parties throughout the Middle East have survived over the years despite severe repression because they understand how to organize.
Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh is a self-proclaimed liberal Islamist who was expelled from the Muslim Brotherhood, but who is for some reason being endorsed by the ultra-conservative Salafis.