Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, the group with a cumbersome name and some unlikely partners played a determining role in pulling Tunisia from the edge of civil war – and guiding it to the doorstep of democracy. Here are some things to know about this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize:
The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was formed in October 2013 in the face of political chaos, including an opposition boycott of the parliament, extremist violence and a staggering economy. Two left-wing politicians had been assassinated and nearly two years after overthrowing its long-time autocratic president, Zine el-Azidine Ben Ali – triggering the Arab Spring – Tunisia was teetering on the edge of civil war.
The group came together at the initiative of Houcine Abassi, leader of the Tunisian General Labor Union, and Wided Bouchamaoui, president of the employers union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, to try to put the nation back on course. The pair drew in the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers. Known as the Quartet, the group initiated a National Dialogue of 21 political parties tasked with forming a new technocratic government to organize elections for a permanent government.
In the ensuing months, the National Dialogue led by the Quartet succeeded in negotiating the transition from the elected government, led by the Islamist Ennahda Party, to the interim government team. On Dec. 14, 2013, Industry Ministry Mehdi Jomaa was chosen as the new caretaker prime minister. The following month, Jomaa swore in a new caretaker government following the resignation of the prime minister of the Ennahda and his coalition government.
– In January 2015, a new permanent government was sworn in after parliamentary and presidential elections that resulted in the victory of the nationalist Nida Tunis (Tunisia Calls) party led by Beji Caid Essebsi, the nation’s current president. Ennahda took a strong second.
The dialogue nearly broke down several times but ultimately succeeded and has been held up as a stark contrast to the coup in Egypt that removed the elected Islamist government there during the summer of 2013.