Youth and political engagement in post-revolution Tunisia
journal contributionposted on 2020-05-15, 00:00 authored by Fethi MansouriFethi Mansouri
Tunisia, the birthplace of the ‘Arab Spring’, has emerged as the only credible story of political transition and democratic consolidation across the region. However, ongoing challenges are tempering the euphoria of the early emancipatory mantra of freedom and dignity. Nevertheless, the political transformation continues to gather assured democratic momentum. And whilst the country’s political elite and leading civil society organizations have managed to avoid the chaotic, and in some cases violent, scenarios in neighbouring countries, some significant challenges remain ahead, none less important than enduring corruption, socio-economic inequalities, sporadic but highly damaging security events, and persistent economic problems, most notably high unemployment among university graduates. Based on qualitative insights and quantitative data, this paper shows that many of these challenges are epitomized in the critical demographic cohort of youth who are disengaging from all forms of formal political activities. The paper argues that democratic gains can be fragile and will be jeopardized unless urgent structural reforms and transformative initiatives are introduced in the country to restore, even partially, the youth’s capacity to influence the social reform agenda and the overall democratization process.