You Can’t Eat Democracy: Tunisia’s Unfinished Revolution

Jessica Kathleen Jerrils, Lynchburg College

Abstract

Tunisia is often described by the Western world as the “success story” of the Arab Spring series of revolutions, and yet instability continues in various areas of Tunisian society. The paper tests Theda Skocpol’s theory of revolution by evaluating the relative significance of events surrounding the 2011 uprising compared to the events following that upheaval. Evidence considered includes the presidency of Habib Bourghiba, the dictatorial rule of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the events of the 2011 “revolution,” the transitional government and interim presidency, security concerns from Libya and ISIS, as well as the continued political instability and unrest leading up to 2016. The analysis focuses on variables that the Tunisian people have deemed important, such as the economy and governmental corruption, as opposed to the requirements of democracy that the West considered important. The study finds that the events of 2011 do not meet Skocpol’s conditions for a revolution, but the events since that time do, indicating an uncompleted revolutionary cycle and a remaining high revolutionary potential. The case study is important as it challenges Western standards of “success” for revolutions and highlights the continuation of volatility the Tunisian people face daily.

 
Apr 6th, 4:15 PM Apr 6th, 4:30 PM

You Can’t Eat Democracy: Tunisia’s Unfinished Revolution

Schewel Hall Room 231

Tunisia is often described by the Western world as the “success story” of the Arab Spring series of revolutions, and yet instability continues in various areas of Tunisian society. The paper tests Theda Skocpol’s theory of revolution by evaluating the relative significance of events surrounding the 2011 uprising compared to the events following that upheaval. Evidence considered includes the presidency of Habib Bourghiba, the dictatorial rule of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the events of the 2011 “revolution,” the transitional government and interim presidency, security concerns from Libya and ISIS, as well as the continued political instability and unrest leading up to 2016. The analysis focuses on variables that the Tunisian people have deemed important, such as the economy and governmental corruption, as opposed to the requirements of democracy that the West considered important. The study finds that the events of 2011 do not meet Skocpol’s conditions for a revolution, but the events since that time do, indicating an uncompleted revolutionary cycle and a remaining high revolutionary potential. The case study is important as it challenges Western standards of “success” for revolutions and highlights the continuation of volatility the Tunisian people face daily.

http://digitalshowcase.lynchburg.edu/studentshowcase/2017/presentations/98