National Dialogue Quartet

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

National Dialogue Quartet

National Dialogue Quartet, informal grouping of four Tunisian civil society organizations formed in mid-2013 to facilitate political dialogue in Tunisia that would lead to consensus on the adoption of new constitution. For its contribution toward building a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia, the quartet was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.

Following the ouster of President Ben Ali during the Arab Spring protests of 2011, a constituent assembly had been elected, but an impasse between Islamist and secular parties had resulted in the failure of the assembly to adopt a new constitution before the end of 2012. Islamist militant violence in Tunisia, which had increased in 2012, led to prominent political assassinations in February and July, 2013. Secular opposition parties boycotted from the assembly and accused the main Islamist party, Ennahda, of complicity in or tolerance for the violence; the Islamist-led government rejected the charges and the opposition's call for a government of national unity.

In an attempt to end the resulting political impasse, avert further political polarization, and speed the adoption of a democratic constitution, Hassine Abassi, the secretary general of the Tunisian General Labor Union, approached the Tunisian Union of Industry, Commerce, and Handicrafts, the national business federation and the trade union's historical opponent, to form an alliance to foster national dialogue and political consensus. Subsequently the two were joined by the Tunisian National Bar Association and Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights in the National Dialogue Initiative. Insisting on a political road map that called for a consensus leading to the establishment of technocratic government, adoption of a constitution, and holding of elections under the supervision of an independent election commission, the quartet gradually achieved (Oct., 2013) 21 political parties' agreement, and work on the constitution resumed. The interim government took office in Jan., 2014, and a new constitution was adopted that month, with elections occuring the following December.

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