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Blowing in the spring!
In an apt sequel to the Arab Spring movement, Tunisia is moving towards the formation of a democratic government

If the Arab Spring was the harbinger of change for Tunisia and its neighbours Egypt and Libya, then signs of another transformation – for full-fledged democracy – are hard to miss in the region. Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s Ennahda party has been at the forefront of engineering a grand ruling coalition that could usher in a stable democratic government in the future. His optimism is infectious, and he expects his country to be “the birthplace of Arab democracy,” after being the progenitor of Arab Spring. In fact, Tunisia has shown the Middle East that Islamists can run a government, hand in hand, with the secularists.

The tussle between Islamist hardliners and secular socialists has been a perennial struggle for the last 50 years in many Arab nations, including Yemen and Bahrain, apart from Tunisia itself. But nowhere else has a reconciliation been possible between these two ideological adversaries, other than in Tunisia. In the latest political breakthrough, Ghannouchi and his party have laid down the roadmap for the formation of a new political coalition, which will have elements from both moderate Islamist and socialist wings. The country now has a stake in shaping the political destiny of the Middle East and North Africa by setting a new benchmark for governance in the region.

Tunisia is working towards drafting a new Constitution, which will act as the edifice for supporting the pillars of permanent democracy. However, the Constitution is still a work in progress, a tedious process that has stretched on for the past 16 months and has been mired in skepticism and controversies raked up not only by domestic lawmakers but also by international human rights watchdogs. There have been accusations that Tunisians lawmakers were sidestepped in the process and the draft largely reflects the interests of ruling parties.

If indeed Tunisia succeeds in establishing a proper democratic set-up, it will mark a tectonic shift in the political structure of the entire Middle East. That could prove to be very unsettling for the reigning monarchs in the region. Already, many ruling establishments in the region are feeling discomfited by the developments unfolding in Tunisia. To preempt the possibility of such a development breaking in their own backyard, the monarchs of Saudi Arabia and other smaller Gulf states have already started granting concessions to their people by reorganizing their representation in the government, giving people a wider platform for participation in governance, and by further strengthening their relationship with religious groups and clergymen.

By:- Sayan Ghosh

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