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Media pluralism and democratic consolidation: a recipe for success?

El Issawi, Fatima (2021) Media pluralism and democratic consolidation: a recipe for success? International Journal of Press/Politics, 26 (4). 861 - 881. ISSN 1940-1612

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Identification Number: 10.1177/19401612211010480


The Tunisian political transition has succeeded in building a working, yet fragile governance beyond ideological and political divides. Political debate across media platforms has become open and dynamic, but the media–politics nexus thrives within a complex system of clientelism forged on shifting alliances between politicians and business tycoons, including recapture by agents of the former regime. The media–politics interplay is taking competitive and antagonistic forms, effectively exacerbating polarized conflicts. This paper reflects on the notions of hybrid media systems, agonistic pluralism, and civic culture, based on data collected in a focus group conducted in Tunis in May 2019 that brought together representatives from media, politics, and civil society complemented by interviews with leading journalists and media stakeholders. This paper argues that the relationship between media and politics is interdependent and marked by confrontation and adaption; the uncertainty of the transition is leading to a complex and volatile power struggle in which neither media nor politics have the upper hand in defining the terms of the game. This ambivalent relationship, taking place within a new system of clientelism, has had a mixed outcome on the process of democratic consolidation.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: IGA: Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa
Subjects: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2021 14:03
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2021 10:03

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