In 2011 a revolution in Tunisia inspired a revolution in Egypt. Both countries subsequently elected Islamist governments. Egypt has now ousted its new rulers. Tunisia does not look set to do the same.
The grassroots opposition movement Tamarod, which sparked the recent mass protests in Egypt, has struggled to make the same impact in Tunisia. Its petition to dissolve Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly and scrap the constitution has collected fewer than 200,000 Tunisian signatures—representing barely 2 percent of the population. In contrast, Egypt’s Tamarod claimed to have gathered 22 million signatures for its own petition—more than a quarter of the Egyptian population.
The reason for Tunisia’s relative stability is not immediately obvious. Tunisia, like Egypt, is grappling with serious problems. At 17 percent, unemployment in Tunisia is actually higher than in Egypt. Inflation is above 6 percent, and key industries, like tourism and phosphate mining, are sputtering. The military is bogged down in a humiliating struggle with jihadists on the country’s border with Algeria. And opponents have accused the government, led by the Islamist party Ennahda, of being soft on radical Salafis.