With a distinctively global, historical view of revolutionary and democratic processes, two recent collections of essays by Sada-Carnegie and POMEPS indicate that it is yet early to draw conclusions about the successes and failures of Arab uprisings. For Tunisia, these reflections are particularly resonant as the country’s leadership decides the constituents of a new “unity government” proposed by President Essebsi in June.
Assessing Tunisia’s resistance to political and economic reforms, the Atlantic Council observes that “old guard networks are present throughout the political system, the business world, and security institutions,” and proposes that Western donors adopt new support strategy to help Tunisia progress in its democratization process.
Secularists defeated Islamists is the verdict most commonly reported in international news outlets; Victory and defeat are relative, Tunisian journalists estimate. The politicization of the secularist-Islamist conflict throughout the Ben Ali’s tenure and the increased occurrences of religious violence after the revolution reflect a true conflict that is by no means the defining feature of the country’s democratic transition nor the 2014 elections. The ISIE’s final tally last week represents «a surprising defeat for the Islamist Nahda party» only for those who do not read beyond the titles of foreign news reports that refrain from examining the intricacies of and history behind party politics over the past four years.
The adoption of a charter signifying convergence on the ‘rules of the game,’ is precisely the sort of written agreement recommended by the International Crisis Group for continued, limited consensus that distinguishes healthy political party competition from enmity spurred by the prioritization of personal/partisan gain and power.