Divergent Neighbors: Post-Revolution Development in Tunisia and Libya
Dr. Jeffrey Polet
The uprisings that swept across the Middle East and North Africa from late 2010 to 2012, frequently referred to collectively as the “Arab Spring,” brought about swift and far-reaching change in the political life of several Arab states. Several of these democratic uprisings resulted in the fall of long-reigning autocratic regimes, two notable examples being Tunisia and Libya. Both of these countries succeeded in knocking dictators out of power, but the governments that replaced them were drastically different: Libya was left in a power vacuum that has yet to be filled by a widely recognized authority, while Tunisia was able to form a robust and competitive democracy. This project will attempt to explain why such contrasting results were found in the two neighboring countries, focusing on their varying degrees of access to political participation offered by the pre-revolution regimes. In Tunisia, a democratic government was possible because Tunisians were more able to participate in political life prior to toppling the despot than Libyans were.
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