Writing Constitutions in the Wake of the Arab Spring

The Challenge of Consolidating Democracy

(Photo: Swiv / flickr)

The wave of revolutions that ousted dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya continues its sweep through the Middle East. In the countries that experienced upheaval first, however, the revolutionary phase has already given way to the process of democratic consolidation. One of the most important aspects of this phase will be the development of new constitutions to formalize each country's future political arrangements.

Even before this year, the nature of constitutions in the Arab world varied widely. In Saudi Arabia and Muammar al-Qaddafi's Libya, for example, the Koran stood in as constitution, with more technical matters, including succession and the nature of consultative councils, covered by a basic law. Other countries, such as Egypt and Tunisia, developed relatively secular constitutions in the 1880s.

All the codes, however, had two major features in common. First, they generally detailed the aspirations of the state, for example, to be part

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