Proposals, Intermediation, and Pressure: The Three Roles of the UGTT in Tunisia’s Post-revolutionary Constitutional Process
This chapter analyzes the involvement of the Tunisian General Labour Union (Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail—UGTT) in the process of constitutional reform, which followed the revolution and constituted a key element in the country’s transition to democracy. The chapter argues that, while the mediating role of the UGTT constitutes its best-known contribution to Tunisia’s transition to democracy, a focus on this “political” dimension misses important parts of the picture. In fact, the UGTT has contributed to the constitutional reform process by adopting three roles that are intertwined but can be distinguished analytically: as a force for proposals; as a force of equilibrium; and as a force for political pressure. The chapter analyzes these three roles empirically, by means of a qualitative case study based on interviews as well as on an analysis of primary documents and media reports. It shows that the UGTT indeed played an indispensable role in facilitating a successful constitutional reform process, but that its specific contributions in terms of the contents of the new constitution have been rather limited. To a certain extent, therefore, the UGTT’s role as a political mediator in the post-revolutionary transformation process has reduced its function as the national representation of organized labor.
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