Democracy in the MENA Region: Tunisia's Election Year

Tunisia is heading towards its third free election this year. 2019 is another test for Tunisia's democratic consolidation, with legislative and presidential elections planned between October and December. In comparison to other countries in the region, Tunisia fared well politically and socially. Two peaceful elections in 2011 and 2014 witnessed a smooth transfer of power and consolidated a number of democratic institutions in the country. Yet several obstacles remain, such as an economic crisis within the country and the resilience of authoritarian tendencies.

On April 12, Columbia Global Centers | Tunis hosted a discussion about the future of Tunisia as a democratic MENA republic. The event featured speakers discussing the country's political situation, the security and economic risks it is facing, and prospects for the future, as Tunisia looks ahead eight years after the Arab uprisings of 2011. Being the only free country in the region, Tunisia is attracting attention and remains an alternative to the existing authoritarian models.

The event featured: Eric Verhoogen, Professor, Department of Economics and SIPA, Co-Director, CDEP, Columbia University (Moderator); Sarah Yerkes, Fellow, Middle East Program, Carnegie; Sharan Grewal, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings; Zied Mhirsi, civil society activist and Board Member of Tunisian American Young Professionals; Elyes Ben Rayana, Head of Corporate and Investment Banking, BIAT (via videoconference).

April 12, 2019