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Elite commitment is often named as an
important driver of democratic transition. After the break down of long
standing political institutions, human agency plays an important role in
determining further developments. Therefore, scholars of democratization, such
as Larry Diamond, emphasize the importance of individual choice, strategy,
endurance and faith when it comes to the future of democracy. Indeed, elites
are one of the most important agents of democracy within a society. Even though
democratic transition is possible without the ideological transformation of the
elite towards more liberal values and democracy, elite commitment to democracy
increases the possibilities of a successful and lasting transition (Bellin
2013). After the break down of the Ben Ali administration, Tunisia was blessed
with an elite that was committed to a democratic change. This was also true for
the Islamist elites in Tunisia, including the Ennahda movement, which had been
committed to free and fair elections. This did not imply that Tunisia´s
political elites all adopted liberal values; differences could be seen in in
the support of gender equality, as well as freedom of expression in debates
between secularist and Islamist groups. However, there was great agreement
considering the end of authoritarian rule, the elimination of such institutions
and the establishment of free and fair elections (idem). Even though Islamist
did well in Tunisia, like in other Arab Spring countries, non- Islamist parties
did well too. In the first elections, the Ennahda party could only assure
itself a plurality of votes, which represented far less than in Egypt, for
example, where the Muslim Brotherhood was able to win the majority vote.
Consequently, the Islamic party in Tunisia was forced to govern in a coalition,
making the government more balanced and less radical (Zakaria 2014).   According to Walter Lippmann, the endurance
of democracies that are based on a “sufficiently even balance of political
power” is much greater (idem). In addition to its elites, Tunisia´s civil
society has made a democratic transition possible.

The numerous theories and literature of
democratization, suggest that civil society makes a large contribution to the
democratic development of a country. One of the first philosophers to describe
the relationship between civil society and democratization was Alexis de
Tocqueville, during his visit to the United States in the 19th
century. It is said that civil society advances democracy “by helping to
generate a transition from authoritarian to democratic rule” and by “deepening
and consolidating democracy once it is established”
(Baker 2015).  This argument proves to be
true in the case of Tunisia. The role of Tunisia´s civil society can be divided
into two main roles. First, it served as “watchdog”, ensuring that regime
actions serve the interests of democracy. This role was important during the
draft of the new constitution, where civil society organizations for gender
equality coordinated protests in Tunis against laws that were discriminating
against the female gender. Second, it engaged in dialogue and facilitated
compromise across the politically divided government. This could be seen in hosted
dialogues by the national trade union movement that invited different parties
to join together and discuss issues over the constitution and governance in a
formal political debate. Such efforts contributed to the draft of a liberal
constitution in 2013 (Bellin n. d.). Consequently, it can be said that the
public involvement and the involvement of civil society in the constitution
draft has contributed to its success (Baker 2015). Throughout the process of
transition, Tunisia´s civil society was highly engaged, demanding transparency,
openness, and compromise. Besides civil society organization that have already
been established, the fall of the Ben Ali dictatorship set the stage for
thousands of new organization, concerned with human right issues, emphasizing
the rights of women and children. The large body of civil society organization
in Tunisia, works together to influence the political process in the country
and monitor the government (Bellin n. d.).

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