Political Transition in Tunisia [February 10, 2015]   [open pdf - 515KB]

"Tunisia has taken key steps toward democracy since the 'Jasmine Revolution' in 2011, and has so far avoided the violent chaos and/or authoritarian resurrection seen in other 'Arab Spring' countries. Tunisians adopted a new constitution in January 2014 and held national elections between October and December 2014, marking the completion of a four-year transitional period. A secularist party, Nidaa Tounes ('Tunisia's Call'), won a plurality of seats in parliament, and its leader Béji Caïd Essebsi was elected president. The results reflect a decline in influence for the country's main Islamist party, Al Nahda (alt: Ennahda, 'Awakening' or 'Renaissance'), which stepped down from leading the government in early 2014. Al Nahda, which did not run a presidential candidate, nevertheless demonstrated continuing electoral appeal, winning the second-largest block of legislative seats and joining a Nidaa Tounes - led coalition government. Although many Tunisians are proud of the country's progress since 2011, public opinion polls also show anxiety over the country's future. Tangible improvements in the economy or government service-delivery are few, while security threats have risen. Nidaa Tounes leaders have pledged to improve counterterrorism efforts and boost economic growth, but have not provided many concrete details on how they will pursue these ends. The party may struggle to achieve internal consensus on specific policies, as it was forged from disparate groups united largely in their opposition to Islamism. Tunisian politicians and civil society leaders may also debate how, and when, to move from a pattern of ad-hoc negotiations to achieve 'consensus' on key political decisions, toward a greater reliance on formal political institutions."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RS21666
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