Democracy in an era of liberalism : An analysis of the democratization process in Tunisia after the Jasmin Revolution

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Uppsala universitet/Teologiska institutionen


The Jasmin Revolution in Tunisia began at the end of 2010. Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest against the corrupt police officials that had forced him to pay bribes in order to run his business. His protest became the symbol for the revolution that followed. A combination of political instabilities along with an economic downturn that lead to unemployment created dissatisfaction among the people in Tunisia. The Protest grew into a revolution that demanded action against the widespread unemployment, lack of democracy and human rights. A democratization process started after the revolution because of the protests.

The purpose of this thesis is to analyse how Tunisia developed a democratic system of governance, if the notion of human rights has changed since the democratization process started and to analyse the relationship between human rights and democracy within the case of Tunisia. Three democratization theories, are applied to this case on Tunisia in order to answer these questions. The theorists are Robert A. Dahl with a theory of constitutionalism and institutionalism, Chantal Mouffe with a theory of agonistic pluralism and Seyla Benhabib with a theory of deliberative democracy.  The three theorists have different opinions regarding democracy and democratization processes but they all agree that the modern notion of democracy is of liberal character and that inclusion and that equality is important for a democracy.

This thesis shows that the democratization of Tunisia’s governance could arise because the process had a relatively liberal agenda, which is perceived through the theories as the modern concept of democracy. The three theories require inclusion and equality for a transition to be democratic. Tunisia has included the citizens in the work of establishing a better relationship between the state and citizens but also when drafting the new constitution after the revolution. The actions taken by Tunisia are compatible with the theories, and maybe an explanation to the democratization process.

The relationship between democracy and human rights is important when discussing the democratization of Tunisia. The revolution demanded democracy and human rights, something that the state could not deny. In order to honour the revolution and its demands the government in Tunisia tried to incorporate human rights into the democratic work, linking the relationship between democracy and human rights. Therefore, it can be viewed as a liberal democratization process.

This thesis proves that Tunisia is not a democracy, but the process after the revolution is still remarkable and one day I can only hope that the process will be complete.

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