Democratic Constitutional Rally

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Democratic Constitutional Rally
التجمع الدستوري الديمقراطي
French nameRassemblement constitutionnel démocratique
PresidentZine El Abidine Ben Ali
Founded27 February 1988 (1988-02-27)
Banned9 March 2011 (2011-03-09)
Preceded bySocialist Destourian Party (formally)
Succeeded byseveral offshoots, including Free Destourian Party
HeadquartersAvenue Mohammed V (Tunis)
NewspaperLe Renouveau
Al Hurriya
Student wingERCD
Youth wingJCD
Membership2,500,000 (2010)
IdeologyBig tent
Tunisian nationalism
Social democracy
Economic liberalism[1]
Political positionCenter-left[2]
International affiliationSocialist International (expelled in 2011)

The Democratic Constitutional Rally or Democratic Constitutional Assembly[3] (Arabic: التجمع الدستوري الديمقراطي et-Tajammu‘ ed-Dustūrī ed-Dīmuqrāṭī, French: Rassemblement Constitutionnel Démocratique, sometimes also called Constitutional Democratic Rally in English), also referred to by its French initials RCD, formerly called Neo Destour then Socialist Destourian Party, was the ruling party in Tunisia from independence in 1956 until it was overthrown and dissolved in the Tunisian revolution in 2011.[4][5]

History and profile[edit]

In 1920, Tunisian nationalists formed the Destour (Constitutional) Party in opposition to French rule. As the party developed, a schism occurred within the party, leading to the founding of the Neo Destour Party in 1934 by Habib Bourguiba and several younger members of the old Destour. Under his leadership, the Neo Destour Party successfully garnered independence from France in 1956. As it was, for all intents and purposes, the only well-organized party in the country, it swept the Constituent Assembly elections held later that year. A year later, Tunisia was declared a republic with Bourguiba as first president.

In 1963, the Neo Destour was formally declared the only legally permitted party in Tunisia, though for all intents and purposes, party and state had been one since independence. In 1964, the Neo Destour Party became the Destourian Socialist Party (PSD).[6]

Opposition parties were legalized once again in 1981. From then on, the PSD faced opposition from Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic Tendency Movement, the Tunisian Communist Party, the Movement for Popular Unity and student groups. Although its influence was slightly weakened, the RCD still effectively ruled Tunisia as a one-party state; it continued to sweep all elections to the legislature until 1994.

On 7 November 1987, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had been named Prime Minister only a month earlier, became president after Bourguiba was declared medically unfit for office.[7] The following year, President Ben Ali instituted economic reforms increasing economic privatization and renamed the party the Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD).[6] Ben Ali did not face an opponent for reelection until 1999, but even then was reelected by implausibly high margins. While opposition parties finally managed to enter the legislature for the first time in 1994, they never won more than 24 percent of the seats, and there was little meaningful opposition to presidential decisions. For all intents and purposes, the RCD continued to hold complete political control over the country.[citation needed]

In the 2009 general election, the last held before the revolution, the RCD won 161 of 214 seats with the remaining 53 seats going to minority parties. Ben Ali was elected to a fifth full term with 89.6 percent of the vote.[8] These elections, like virtually all others in the country since independence, were widely seen as fraudulent. The outcry over the elections proved to be a major cause of the revolution which forced Ben Ali to resign and flee into exile.[9]

In response to the RCD's attempt to suppress the protests, the Socialist International expelled the RCD on 17 January 2011—three days after Ben Ali fled the country.[10] In order to placate protesters and designated coalition participants, the incumbent president and prime minister resigned from their memberships in the RCD on 18 January[11] and all remaining RCD-aligned ministers resigned their party memberships on 20 January,[12] the effect of which left the RCD with only a parliamentary majority.[clarification needed] On 27 January, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi carried out a major reshuffle, removing all former RCD members other than himself from the government.

The interior ministry suspended the party's operations on 6 February, a little less than a month after Ben Ali fled into exile.[13] On 9 March, the party was dissolved by the Tunisian courts.[5]



  • 29–31 July 1993
  • 29–31 July 1998
  • 30 August – 2 September 1998
  • 28–31 July 2003

Electoral history[edit]

Presidential elections[edit]

Election Party candidate Votes % Result
1989 Zine El Abidine Ben Ali 2,087,028 100% Elected Green tickY
1994 2,987,375 100% Elected Green tickY
1999 3,269,067 99.4% Elected Green tickY
2004 4,204,292 94.4% Elected Green tickY
2009 4,238,711 89.6% Elected Green tickY

Chamber of Deputies elections[edit]

Election Party leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Result
1989 Zine El Abidine Ben Ali 1,633,004 80.6%
141 / 141
Increase 16 Increase 1st Supermajority government
1994 2,768,667 97.7%
144 / 163
Increase 3 Steady 1st Supermajority government
1999 2,831,030 91.5%
148 / 182
Increase 4 Steady 1st Supermajority government
2004 3,678,645 87.5%
152 / 182
Increase 4 Steady 1st Supermajority government
2009 3,754,559 84.5%
161 / 214
Increase 9 Steady 1st Supermajority government

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "TUNISIE : La fin du congrès du RCD le président Ben Ali réaffirme son souci de " concrétiser le pluralisme"". Le 3 August 1993.
  2. ^ "RCD (Rassemblement Constitutionnel Démocratique) | Institut MEDEA".
  3. ^ Entry for "Democratic Constitutional Rally" in the Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  4. ^ "Minister of Interior Suspends the RCD party awaiting its dissolution". Tunis Afrique Presse (in Arabic). 7 February 2011. Archived from the original on 10 February 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Tunisia dissolves Ben Ali party". Al-Jazeera English. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Tunisia: Politics, Government and Taxation". Encyclopedia of Nations. 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  7. ^ Paul Delaney (9 November 1987). "Senile Bourguiba Described in Tunis". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  8. ^ "Final Results of Presidential and Legislative Elections". Presidential and Legislative Elections in Tunisia. 26 October 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2010.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Empathy for Tunisian discontent in France Archived 18 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine Euronews, 13 January 2011
  10. ^ SI decision on Tunisia Socialist International, 17 January 2011
  11. ^ "State TV: 2 top officials depart Ben Ali's party In Tunisia". CNN. 19 January 2011.
  12. ^ Lin Noueihed and Matthew Jones (20 January 2011). "All Tunisian ministers quit ruling party- state TV". Reuters.
  13. ^ "Tunisia suspends Ben Ali's RCD party". BBC News. 2 June 2011.