Tunisia’s decentralization process has tremendous potential. It is both symbolically important, as a key step toward consolidating the country’s democratic transition, as well as a practical step toward correcting some of the regional injustices that occurred before the Arab Spring.

However, to be successful, the central government, local government, civil society, and international donors must each invest in the process. Recent legislation to more tightly regulate civic groups in the country has sounded alarm bells among Western supporters—including the European Union— that Tunisia’s difficult postrevolution transition may be in danger.

Carnegie’s Sarah Yerkes discussed her latest paper, Decentralization in Tunisia: Empowering Towns, Engaging People (co-authored by Marwan Muasher), outlining how Tunisia’s central and local governments, civil society, and international donors can continue to move the country’s democratization process forward. Yerkes was joined by Patrick Costello and Maya Bou Ayache. Carnegie’s Marc Pierini moderated.

Copies of the paper were available at the event, and a light reception followed.


Maya Bou Ayache

Maya Bou Ayache is a programme officer at the European Endowment for Democracy.

Patrick Costello

Patrick Costello is the head of division for democracy and electoral observation at the European External Action Service. Follow him on Twitter @patrick_era.

Sarah Yerkes

Sarah Yerkes is a fellow in Carnegie’s Middle East Program, where her research focuses on Tunisia’s political, economic, and security developments as well as state-society relations in the Middle East and North Africa. Follow her on Twitter @SarahEYerkes.

Marc Pierini

Marc Pierini is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, where his research focuses on developments in the Middle East and Turkey from a European perspective. Follow him on Twitter @MarcPierini1.