Ten months after the death of a street vendor, an event that marked the start of the “Arab Spring”, voters in Tunisia began casting votes to elect new representatives. If everything goes by the script, Tunisians will get a new constitution and a new government, too.
The interim Prime Minister of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi, casts his vote in La Soukra near Tunis on Sunday. Tunisians began voting Sunday in their first truly free elections, the culmination of a popular uprising that ended decades of authoritarian rule and set off similar rebellions across the Middle East. Chokri Mahjoub/AP
That, however, is only one part of the story and there is no one, thematic, plot across the Middle East. In Libya, the deposed dictator was shot by a crowd of enraged rebels. In Egypt, the army is unwilling to relent its grip on power. In Syria, grim tales of government repression continue to filter out.
So there’s no royal road to democracy. While the urge to that point may be strong in all countries, the transition won’t take place at the same time.
Democracy is only the start of a long journey in these countries. With youthful populations, their choice of economic order will be much more important to their future.