PARIS – Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” is still unfolding, but we can already read into it lessons about democracy and democratization that extend far beyond the Maghreb.
To set the Jasmine Revolution in historical perspective, we must recall June 4, 1989 – that pivotal Sunday when the Poles voted the communists out of power and, at the other end of Eurasia, the Communist Party of China crushed a burgeoning democratic movement on Tiananmen Square. In retrospect, that day looks like a fork in the road of human history. One path led to the demise of communism and a new birth of freedom and democracy – at times bloody and painful – in Europe. The other path traced an alternative course, with China remaining under the grip of its ruling party, but delivering prosperity to its impoverished masses through astounding and sustained growth.