Struggles over Socioeconomic Reforms: Political Conflict and Social Contention in Egypt and Tunisia post 2011 in Interregional Comparison

Socioeconomic reforms sit atop the political agenda in Egypt and Tunisia. Given that a certain degree of politico-institutional stabilization has been achieved, since 2014 governments in both countries have reacted to the worsening economic situation by addressing highly contested topics such as subsidies and public sector reforms. This has led to heated struggles that are sure to be of vital significance for Tunisia’s fragile democracy and Egypt’s reconstituted authoritarian regime.

The research team consisting of Middle East and Latin American experts from Egypt, Germany and Tunisia will analyze the consequences of the contentious negotiations over socioeconomic reforms for societal peace and political order in Egypt and Tunisia. As a follow-up to the project “Socioeconomic protests and political transformation: dynamics of contentious politics in Egypt and Tunisia against the background of South American experiences", this project will continue to look at protest actors  but will also include the role of established political actors as well as business associations, think tanks/NGOs and international financial institutions into the analysis. A political economy framework is used to study the interactions between contentious and routine politics.

Looking at different policy fields (e.g. fiscal policy, social policy, public sector and regional development), the project will:

  • identify the most important reform debates in Egypt and Tunisia since 2011 as well as the involved actors, their positions, power resources and strategies;
  • analyze strategies and interactions of actors involved in the (institutional) handling of conflicts in order to draw conclusions about the interactions between contentious and routine politics;
  • analyze the outcomes of the conflicts with regard to differences in issue areas and countries;
  • analyze the impact of these struggles over socioeconomic reforms on social conflict and political development in these countries.

For each reform debate, the results will be compared between Egypt and Tunisia as well as with selected experiences from Latin America. Finally, the project will develop policy recommendations and contribute to active knowledge transfer.

The project is carried out in cooperation with Dr. Amr El Shobaki and Dr. Nadine Abdalla of the Arab Forum for Alternatives, Egypt, and Dr. Bassem Karray and Dr. Hamza Meddeb of the University of Sfax, Tunisia.

The project is funded for three years by the Volkswagen Foundation.

From driver of change to marginalised actor | 2019

Abdalla, Nadine/Wolff, Jonas (2019): From driver of change to marginalised actor. Organised labour in post-revolutionary Egypt from a comparative perspective, in: Journal of North African Studies, DOI: 10.1080/13629387.2019.1644917.

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Proteste in Algerien: Was wir von Ägypten und Tunesien lernen können | 2019

Weipert-Fenner, Irene (2019): Proteste in Algerien: Was wir von Ägypten und Tunesien lernen können, PRIF Blog, 11.3.2019.

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Arab Forum for Alternatives, Egypt
Arab Forum for Alternatives, Egypt
University of Sfax, Tunesia
University of Sfax, Tunesia