The North Africa and the Middle East region is known for the people revolt against authoritarian leadership through peaceful protests. In the recent past countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria have experienced revolts that have led to overthrow of dictators. Tunisia was the first country to start a revolution when a young man set himself on fire as an indicator of objection against Ben Ali government (Mansfield & Snyder, 2012). This act prompted more people to join the demonstrations and in three weeks Ben Ali's dictatorial regime of over 20 years was brought down. Tunisia's non-violent protest set the pace for other countries, and in most Arabic states dictators were overthrown. Tunisia has shown a success so far while Egypt has not indicated any successful move towards democratic transition.
Egypt was the second country to have a movement that toppled Mubarak's 25 years dictatorship. The demonstrations began peacefully but resulted in violence when the government decided to disperse the people using violent methods. The whole protest led to the death of 1000 people (Ghanem, 2014). However, Mubarak's, dictatorship fell after two weeks of non-violent demonstrations. Both Egypt and Tunisia had a similar challenge of dictatorial regimes that were in power for more than 20 years. The two countries share the same geographical area and have similar political movements. In both countries, the dictatorial regimes were held in power by the military and the use of violence. Even though the two countries overthrew their dictatorial regimes, the way they dealt with the aftermath indicated their differences in terms of achieving a democratic transition.
Democratic transition in dictatorial countries can be achieved by consciously handling the issues that arise after overthrowing of a tyrannical system. For instance, in both Egypt and Tunisia the military played a significant role in the entire process of bringing down the dictatorial governments. In Egypt, the military played an active role in the revolution. The Egypt military decided to unite with the protesters to topple the authoritarian government (Darwisheh, 2014). After the revolution, the Supreme Council of armed forces (SCAF) was in leadership until when elections were held. The military organized and delivered an election after the revolution. However, the opposition dissented with the referendum citing irregularities in the entire process.
On the other hand, the Military in Tunisia remained neutral after a revolution. Elections were carried out by an independent body. People were satisfied with the results, and no dissents were witnessed. As such, democratic transitions can be achieved based on the manner that countries handle their issues after a revolution or change of leadership.
Democratization is aided by the legislation of appropriate legal frameworks on governance issues. For instance by bringing a compromise between political parties. In Tunisia democracy was realized through cooperation between Islamic and secular parties. Economic performance can aid the democratization of a country. Tunisia experienced tremendous economic growth of 2% after the revolution. Tunisia government conducted an economic reform giving hope to people that the situation will become better (Mansfield& Snyder, 2012). The growth in the economy helped the country to gain stability leading to a successful democratic transition.
The process of democratization is inhibited by military involvement in political matters. The military forces should be neutral and should not get engaged in politics. When military groups indulge in politics, the country becomes polarized, and democratization cannot be achieved (Ghanem, 2014). Moreover, democratic transition is inhibited by silencing freedom speech. People cannot trust a system that does not give them the freedom to air their opinions on governance matters. Also, corruption inhibits democratization due to lack of transparency in activities such as elections and other nationally sensitive processes.
Ghanem, H. (2014). Egypt's Difficult Transition: Why the International Community Must Stay Economically Engaged. Brookings.
Darwisheh, H. (2014). Trajectories and Outcomes of the Arab Spring': Comparing Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria (No. 456). Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).
Mansfield, E. D., & Snyder, J. (2012). Democratization and the Arab Spring. International Interactions, 38(5), 722-733.
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