Religion and political parties in Tunisia

Authored by: Francesco Cavatorta , Fabio Merone

The Routledge Handbook to Religion and Political Parties

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138500464
eBook ISBN: 9781351012478
Adobe ISBN:


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In the Tunisian context, the controversial role of religion in politics has shaped the transition and political parties have had to contend with its presence in the process of negotiating the construction of a new political and legal system. However, the narrative of reconciliation between secularity and religion seems to reflect more the self-perception of the actors than the reality. This chapter, building on the assumption that these two concepts – ‘secularity’ and ‘religion’ – take on different meanings in the Arab world from the ones they have in the West, argues that the relationship between political parties and religion – in Tunisia and elsewhere – is much more complex than a simple binary division that needs to be bridged in order to have pluralistic politics. The reality is that in Tunisia so-called religious parties might not be that ‘religious’ in the doctrinal sense and are more interested in political outcomes and results while so-called secular parties might actually have policy preferences and references that are ‘religious’.

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