The Democratization of Egypt and Tunisia

Topics: Democracy, Liberal democracy, Democratization Pages: 8 (2302 words) Published: April 10, 2011

In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved. - Franklin D. Roosevelt

It appears that many countries are settling into a form of government that mixes a substantial degree of democracy with a substantial degree of illiberalism (Zakaria: 1997). Just like what Egypt and Tunisia are portraying to us. From authoritarian rule, they moved forward to become a democratic country and perceived a concept of democratic space. They are both in the path of a transitional democracy. They inhabit the wide and foggy zone between liberal democracy and closed authoritarianism. This comparative analysis will elaborate three major points in the prospect of democracy for Egypt and Tunisia. (1) The qualifications for a democratic space, (2) The role of Internal and External actors for their democratization and (3) The role of civil society, military and technology in the political and social change in the two countries.

According to, the concept of democratic space is inconceivable in the absence of deliberative citizens and the different ways in which they mediate their pluralistic interests. It is also inconceivable in the absence of democratic power. In this sense the democratic power is equated to “power to” meaning the power becomes a resource that empowers and wakes the potential of the human person and of society. On the other hand, undemocratic power is "power over" almost at any cost. It is about control, domination and hegemony and operates outside the provisions of democratic politics. It advances the "grand narrative" of those who exercise and abuse power.

So let’s compare what is the reason why these two countries move forward to become a democratic country. According to, the Tunisian uprising began when Mohammed Bouazizi—a college graduate eking out a living selling vegetables whose unlicensed cart was confiscated by the police—set himself on fire, an act of desperation that inspired the country's thousands of unemployed graduates to take to the streets in protest while the Egyptian revolution began when Khaled Said--a 28-year-old businessman. He was sitting in a cybercafe in Alexandria, when the police came in and demanded everyone’s papers. He asked the officers why and soon after he laid dead, his face smashed against the staircase of a nearby building, his cries for help unanswered because any attempt to meddle in a police matter would automatically result in arrest and torture. Over the following weeks, young Egyptians staged protests demanding justice for this man, protests that were repressed by President Mubarak’s police thugs. As you can observe, there are citizens who protest against their government because their human rights and other rights are wholly repressed.

There is a democratic space when deliberative citizens are present and they expressed or voiced out their pluralistic interest or agony against the government. Power is not only obvious in domination, but inheres in all relationships such that ‘any interpretation of reality is itself a manifestation of power, and that those who are relatively powerless still participate in power’ (Yeatman, 1997:147). Also there is democratic space when there is an existing democratic power. In the case of Egypt and Tunisia, because our society today is in a digital age, the democratic power shifts on the Internet.

 According to, the Internet allows people to communicate their interests to a broad audience and, as a result of that communication, to form interest groups that pool resources which allow the individuals in those groups to exert power on political decision-makers. And I guess because of globalization- a process that renders various activities and aspirations "worldwide in scope or application" or simply the opening of the world, the flow and control of mass information became uncontrollable. As...
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