A Struggle for Institutionalization: the Tunisian Assemblée des Répresentants du Peuple and the Dominance of Consensus-Oriented Politics

In: Middle East Law and Governance
Chahd BahriFaculty of Law and Political Sciences, University of Sousse, Sousse, Tunisia,

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Jan Claudius VölkelArnold Bergstraesser Institute, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany,

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This article is part of the Special Issue “Parliaments in the Middle East and North Africa: A Struggle for Relevance.” Tunisia’s parliament has undergone a remarkable internal transformation process since 2011, from a formerly mostly irrelevant institution to an influential locus of policy-making. This successful progress notwithstanding, the parliament’s transformation to a democratic assembly has not been fully concluded yet. A main challenge is that the legislature still shows a number of characteristics of an “authoritarian parliament”: besides a lack of staff and financial resources, the continuous dominance of personal kinship over institutionalized power structures remains particularly problematic.

While private networks of individual decision-makers were perceived as crucial for Tunisia’s stability during the turbulent post-revolution years, they concomitantly contain the risk for a resurrection of former authoritarian structures. The article thus traces the Tunisian parliament’s major transformation steps from a former irrelevant legislature to a consolidated, influential assembly, and points out the still existing challenges.

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