Tunisia Marks Two Years Since Revolution
Monday marked two years since protests began in Tunisia and sparked uprisings across the Middle East. Thousands of secular Tunisians protested the Islamist government on the revolution’s anniversary, expressing frustration with unemployment, rising prices, and religious violence.
Although analyses of the current environment in Tunisia noted disenchantment with the progress of the transition, many authors cited reasons for optimism regarding Tunisia’s ultimate success. Marc Lynch points to the history of democratic transition, noting that the outlook was grim for many democracies after two years but a bleak forecast at this stage has not always been a predictor of failure. Raymond Torres of the International Labor Organization claims that trust in political leaders and belief that conditions in the country will improve are growing among Tunisians, while a Bloomberg editorial points to negotiations between political factions drafting the new constitution and promising new investment legislation as indicators of potential success.
These analyses also offered recommendations for further progress toward democracy in Tunisia. Torres calls for Tunisian access to other markets or integration of North African economies. Bloomberg editors emphasize the necessity of visible improvements in the lives of Tunisian citizens to prevent new uprisings, saying, “Tunisians are impatient to see change.” They suggest international aid and public-private partnerships to fund and implement new infrastructure projects and increased outside investment in Tunisia’s economy. A UN group also addressed the need for fully protected civil liberties under the new government, calling on officials to adopt stronger protections against gender inequality and discrimination in the draft constitution.
Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki also offered thoughts on Tunisia’s future. Marzouki argues that all Arab Spring countries must achieve political compromise between Islamists and secularists and must eliminate corruption while establishing economies based on solidarity in order to become advanced democracies. He also writes that Tunisia is the Arab country best equipped for succeeding in democratization and that, “the success of the Tunisian experiment will have a very positive impact on the entire Arab world.”