The Egyptian Revolution and its Aftermath

Mohamed Elagati (ed)
Content Type
Policy Brief
The Polish Institute of International Affairs
There is a great similarity between the Egyptian and Tunisian political changes at the beginning of 2011. Not only were there similarities between the two economies—imbalanced development and investment indicators and increasing rates of inflation and unemployment—but also in a symbolic sense in the reaction of citizens to the harsh living conditions. The very same week that a young Tunisian man, Mohamed Bou Azeezi, set himself on fire to object to the municipality's confiscation of the goods he was selling, Egyptian Hamdy Al-Senoosi lighted himself on fire as well, objecting to the confiscation of his “tuctuc”. Many analysts point to differences in the political system: In Egypt, there was allowed some space for political practices, while in Tunisia there existed a very repressive environment to the extent that human rights activists called Zine El Abidine Ben Ali “The Arab Pinochet.” That repression led to the explosion of public outrage in Tunisia. The Tunisian system is a typical authoritarian one while the former Egyptian system was a model of “electoral authoritarianism,” allowing some space of political movement via a sort of “pluralism” (even if it was a facade), a somewhat independent judiciary (even if it was subject to political pressures), something akin to freedom of expression (even if owners of media channels could not cross certain lines) and seats in parliament for the opposition (even if the majority always went to the main party).
Democratization, Regime Change
Political Geography
Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia