Tunisia’s Transition and the Twin Tolerations

Issue Date April 2012
Volume 23
Issue 2
Page Numbers 89-103
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In 2011, Tunisia achieved a successful democratic transition, albeit not yet a consolidation of democracy. It did so while adhering to a relationship between religion and politics that follows the pattern of what I have called the “twin tolerations.” The first toleration is that of religious citizens toward the state. It requires that they accord democratically elected officials the freedom to legislate and govern without having to confront denials of their authority based on religious claims—such as the claim that “Only God, not man, can make laws.” The second toleration requires that laws and officials must permit religious citizens, as a matter of right, to freely express their views and values within civil society, and to freely take part in politics, as long as religious activists and organizations respect other citizens’ constitutional rights and the law.

About the Author

Alfred Stepan is the founding director of Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion (CDTR), and author (with Juan J. Linz) of Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe.

View all work by Alfred Stepan