This year, Mehdi Jomaâ was the keynote speaker at the Montesquieu Prinsjes Lecture. Until February this year, Jomaâ was the acting prime minister of Tunisia, during a period of democratic reforms. The lecture took place on September, 11 at the Senate ('Eerste Kamer') in the Hague.
However, the parliamentary democracy in Tunisia stands at its early and fragile beginning. The worsened economic situation, the threat of IS and the attacks on the Barbo Museum and recently in Sousse lead to insecurity and instability in the country. Some people even call for the return of a dictatorial regime. Does this mean that the democratic processes in Tunisia are already undermined? Or is it just a bump on the long, difficult road to a stable democracy?
Mehdi Jomaâ shared his thoughts on the importance of democracy. During his prime ministership a new, progressive constitution was adopted and the first democratic parliamentary elections were held. Consensus was reached in the once strongly polarised Tunisian politics, meaning that all political parties in parliament were willing to compromise, despite their conflicting visions.
This means Jomaâ literally helped building a ‘workplace for democracy’ where people understand the art of conflict and compromise. Therefore, Tunisia has long been seen as the only success story of the Arab Spring.
De Montesquieu Prinsjes Lecture is part of the annual Prinsjesfestival. This year the theme is: The Art of Conflict and Compromise – 1815-2015: States General, workplace of democracy.
Prinsjesfestival celebrates democracy. This year takes place from Thursday 10 to Tuesday 15 September. The theme of this year's festival is: The Art of Conflict and Compromise; 1815-2015 States General: workplace of democracy.