June 22, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.
Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.
Why Tunisia’s Transition to Democracy Is Succeeding While Egypt Falters
Posted on Jan 25, 2014
By Juan Cole
Square, Story page, 2nd paragraph, mobile
On Sunday, Tunisia’s parliament will vote on the final text of the new constitution. If it passes by a two-thirds vote, the text will not have to go to a national referendum, but just would become the organic law of the country. The constitution guarantees equal rights for women and wants gender equity in elections, and does not explicitly mandate Islamic law or sharia.
Tunisia’ parliament is 42% religious Right and the rest secular and ideological. The religious right (al-Nahda or the Renaissance Party) had the prime ministership but the speaker of parliament is a leftist and the president is a secular liberal.
Tunisia’s transition to democracy often has been troubled. Two horrific assassinations marred the process in 2013, with prominent leftists shot down. But the Tunisian political class dealt with those crises about as well as one could hope. The youth reassembled and demanded that the ruling al-Nahda or Renaissance prime minister step down. Organized labor stepped in as well. A compromise was hammered out– once the constitution is approved, Renaissance PM Larayyedh would step down in favor of a technocrat. The interim government will guide the country to further elections and referendums.
Square, Site wide, Desktop
Square, Site wide, Mobile
What explains the different outcomes?
1. The army stayed above the fray in Tunisia. In Egypt it repeatedly intervened, helping destabilize the country. The government Egypt has today, 3 years after the Tahrir revolution, was simply appointed by the officer corps, though further elections are promised.
2. The religious Right in Tunisia was cautious. Disciplined by neighboring Algeria’s decade-long civil war, al-Nahda avoided deeply polarizing moves. It gave up on putting sharia or Islamic law in the constitution. It allowed a middle class pushback against inroads against women’s rights. It agreed to step down in favor of a technocrat after last summer’s assassination.
3. The national labor union, the UGTT (General Union of Tunisian Workers) is relatively independent and powerful in Tunisia. It could thus lobby the government and step in as mediators in fall of 2013. Egypt’s labor unions are neither so independent nor so powerful.
5. Tunisia’s economy improved slightly. After a difficult 2011 and 2012, in 2013 Tunisia’s economy grew 2.3 percent. Egypt has continued to suffer economic contraction, with tourism 40% off in 2013 between the Brotherhood’s policies and those of the junta.
Related video: BBC reports, “Egypt needs ‘national dialogue’”
Banner, End of Story, Desktop
Banner, End of Story, Mobile
Watch a selection of Wibbitz videos based on Truthdig stories:
New and Improved Comments
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide