Will the Real Tunisian Opposition Please Stand Up? Opposition Coordination Failures under Authoritarian Constraints

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  • Rikke Hostrup Haugbølle
  • Francesco Cavatorta
ABSTRACT This contribution examines the reasons behind the failure of
Tunisia’s opposition to forge effective coordination and collaborative links during
Ben Ali’s reign, focusing specifically on the inability and unwillingness of political
parties to act in concert in order to challenge his authoritarian rule. Focusing on
two attempts at opposition coordination in the 2000s (Rencontre De´mocratique
and 18 October Collectif), it demonstrates that a number of interconnected
explanations are at the heart of this failure, ranging from ideological differences
and strategic divergence to personal rivalries among opposition leaders. The key
contention of this study is that divisions within the political opposition were as
important as regime repression in sustaining the Ben Ali regime for over 20 years.
In addition, the present study contends that these intra-opposition divisions and
past coordination failures explain the absence of political parties at the helm of
the 2011 uprising.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)323–341
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

ID: 36030389