Coup in Tunisia: Why the Military Abandoned Democracy

Issue Date January 2022
Volume 33
Issue 1
Page Numbers 27–39
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Despite a reputation for political neutrality and professionalism, the Tunisian armed forces have played a crucial role in President Kais Saied’s July 2021 closure of parliament and subsequent power grab. It did not have to be this way: In 2011, the military helped to facilitate the very democratic transition Saied’s actions destroyed. This article argues that the generals’ change of heart may be due to political and resource demands: They seek a strong leader to help consolidate political and resource gains made in the past decade. Saied and the armed forces have strong incentives to stick together and entrench their power, rendering a quick democratic restoration in Tunisia unlikely.

About the Author

Hicham Bou Nassif is associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. He is the author of Endgames: Military Response to Protest in Arab Autocracies (2021).

View all work by Hicham Bou Nassif