Drissi (Sihem)

Sihem Drissi, “Democracy Building in Tunisian Political History: Rereading the importance of consensus mechanism within the democratization process”

The transitional period, lasting from the elections of the National Constitutional Assembly in 2011 to the 2014 elections, has witnessed a number of dangerous downturns for the incomplete democracy that was in the process of formation. In fact, the process of democracy construction in the Tunisian case, after 2011, has revealed the intense ideological contradictions that negatively affected the political behaviour of the new governing and the opposing political elites. For, since the beginning of the transitional period, the new ruling elites (troika) seemed incapable of managing public affairs as well as meeting their electoral promises together with weakening the state’s security and judicial institutions, based on extreme politicization and going far in putting pressure on media, activists and the opposition.

The Tunisian case has also revealed the availability of a set of variables designed to resort to compromise logic, including the historical heritage, constitutional modernization, political openness and the roles of the state’s institutions that go back to the Ottoman era. A state of ideological and identity differentiation between the troika and the political and social opposition has dominated the transitional era, leading to the predicament of slippage to chaos and cleavage. All this was based on historical injustice, intimidation and ideological difference between political Islam and secularists.

This paper seeks to study the historical development of the consensus mechanism with the ruling system in Tunisia, focusing on its forms after 2011 and its repercussions on the type of achieved democracy. In the midst of the consensus paths, the social and political elites (ideologically divergent) interact to overcome differences and fears over a number of issues such as Sharia , woman’s rights, the state’s political system as well as the type of society. In this context, I intend to present the phases of the manifestation of national dialogues in the period between the elections of 2011 and 2014 from a critical and comparative perspective that reflects the oppositional forces to the troika government. In this sense, the different negotiation initiatives that I am going to deal with have contributed to the gradual fragmentation of the exclusionary closure among the conflict groups swinging between Islamists and secularists or between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries.

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