Rafik Hariri Center Nonresident Fellow Duncan Pickard writes for Muftah on Tunisia’s political process following constitution-drafting:
Tunisia stands the Arab world’s best chance of creating a sustainable, homegrown democracy. At this stage in the country’s political transition, the central question is whether the country’s elites are sufficiently invested in the new constitutional order. The winners of the next presidential and parliamentary elections will have great power in setting precedents for the way politics will function in the “Second Republic.” Whoever the victors may be, they must work to cement the tradition of alternance—the peaceful transfer of power—that is both critical for democratic politics and largely absent from the Arab world.
The Process So Far
Thus far, Tunisia’s political transition has been successful because of a commitment to consensus and compromise. A broad spectrum of political elites has influenced the transition’s progress. The Ben Achour commission, the political-reform committee that first called for a new constitution, was largely led by secular law professors. Ennahdha, the moderate Islamic party, won a plurality of seats in the 2011 elections for the Constituent Assembly, which was charged with drafting a new constitution, and chose to form a coalition with Ettakatol and the Congress for the Republic, two secular parties.