Coup in Tunisia: Transition Arrested

Issue Date January 2022
Volume 33
Issue 1
Page Numbers 12–26
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In July 2021, Tunisia’s populist president Kais Saied suspended the popularly elected legislature, upending a decade-long democratic transition. Despite the international celebration Tunisia’s 2011 transition had garnered, Saied’s executive takeover initially precipitated among Tunisians more relief than opposition. This article explores the factors that left Tunisia’s democracy so vulnerable. I argue that after decades of single-party rule, political elites failed to build political parties capable of parlaying political liberalization into the good governance and economic prosperity that many had expected to come from democratization. These failures not only contributed to the appeal of Saied’s antiparty populism, but also left the country’s democracy bereft of guardrails to stop him.

About the Author

Nate Grubman is a teaching fellow in Civic, Liberal, and Global Education at Stanford University. His research focuses on party systems, ideology, nostalgia, and corruption during transitions from authoritarian rule, and he is currently working on a book about Tunisia’s party system after the 2010–11 uprising.

View all work by Nate Grubman