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Vol. 2 (2021): Panoply Journal

Tunisia Post-Revolution: What is Preventing its Democracy

  • Evan Ewards
27 December 2021


Ten years have passed since Tunisians overthrew an authoritarian regime controlled by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Corruption and an oppressive police force led to the self-immolation and death of Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street merchant in 2011, quickly igniting waves of protests and becoming the catalyst for the Arab Spring. These protests which quickly encompassed the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) called for democratic reform within their respective governments, but Tunisia remains the only state to succeed, holding democratic elections from 2011 onward and ratifying a new constitution in 2014. Despite these measures, democratization remains slow to develop. What explains Tunisia’s lack of democratic progress since the revolution? This paper examines Tunisia’s impediment to a fully developed democracy, which will argue weak institutional reform as the cause for corruption to persist. To offer a comparison, this paper will highlight Chile’s rapid democratic transition from a violent dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet, where corruption levels plummeted after thorough institutional reform. Chile also possesses a Constitutional Court, an independent judicial body whose significance is affirming the constitutionality of proposed laws and decisions made by executive powers. Disagreements among parties within Tunisian Parliament have prevented this institution, which contributes to Tunisia’s democratic prevention as there is no third-party oversight on constitutional matters to ensure civil liberties provided by the constitution are adhered to.

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