Edited by Hans-Joachim Giessmann, Roger Mac Ginty, Beatrix Austin and Christine Seifert
Chapter 6: Tunisia
Six years after the Tunisians pioneered the slogan ‘The people want the fall of the regime’ and toppled dictator Zine Abidine Ben Ali, evaluation of Tunisia’s transition process is hotly contested. Domestic elites and mainstream analysts focus on the achievements in the country’s political transition from dictatorship to democracy, while especially young revolutionaries and critical scholars highlight the lack of change in the spheres of economics, security and justice after the uprising. At the domestic level, tensions persist between those who want a radical break with the past and those who fear it. The standoff between both sides has generated several unreconciled contradictions that could destabilise the country. At the heart of these tensions lie three interconnected questions: how far does political transformation in a revolutionary context have to go in order to qualify as regime change? Which driving forces have prompted what types of transformation in Tunisia since 2011? Has Tunisia’s ‘refolution’ spawned new types of revolutionary agency that are able to generate regime change? This chapter explores these different strands of the debate over Tunisia’s transition. Moreover, in response to the third question, it introduces the concept of everyday state formation as a conceptual innovation that emerged from the Arab Uprisings.
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