Everyday Politics of Democratic Backsliding in Tunisia

a man walks by a monument

More than 10 years ago, the North African country Tunisia sparked the so-called Arab Spring, democratizing countries in the Arab World. However, Tunisia's political leadership is working on undoing democratization with support from the country's citizenry. 

Department of Political Science doctoral student Haifa Souilmi recently published an article in The Journal of North African Studies that examines Tunisian President Kais Said's state of exception and the polls supporting his actions to undo democratization. However, Souilmi writes that ethnographic evidence in the rural community of Vaga where the “yes” vote for the referendum was 80%, shows that emotional voting, illiberal values, and the paradox of nostalgia and fear can explain the support for Kais Said and his executive aggrandizement efforts. However, the approval is conditional and contested. Citizens in Vaga have not given up on critical democratic practices and democracy.