On Monday, January 27, Tunisia’s political leaders formally announced the adoption of the country’s new Constitution. The voting process occurred on Sunday night, with a total of 200 votes cast in approval of the document. Out of the 216 assembly members present, only 12 voted against the Constitution, while 4 refrained from voting. The approval of Tunisia’s Constitution comes three years after the uprisings against Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and represents the conclusion of a two-year process that began with the election of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) back in October 2011.
Tunisia has received positive recognition both nationally and internationally regarding the finalization of the Constitution. Interim President Moncef Marzouki acknowledged the country’s democratic progress, but confirmed that there was much that still needed to be accomplished. In addition, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon recognized the post-revolution Constitution as a, “historic milestone” to be utilized as, “a model to other people seeking reforms.”
Often identified as the birthplace of the Arab Spring, Tunisia stands to represent the possibility of democratic transition, and will undoubtedly be looked to by its neighbors as a source of influence. The weight of such influence necessitates a comprehensive, rather than isolated view of Tunisia’s pro-democratic path. Although the country has finalized a Constitution praised for its progressive and inclusive nature, the context of its construction is critical. This Constitution was not born from consolidated institutions, but was rather developed among a divided leadership and at times hostile political environment. These observations are not highlighted to discount the progress that has been made, but to realize the potential struggles that still exist.
With the recent announcement of a newly appointed caretaker government, and a commitment to hold elections later this year, Tunisia, despite persisting obstacles, remains a formative leader of the Arab Spring and represents the possibility of stability post revolution.