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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
December 2020
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Examining the factors that shaped the first interim governments of Tunisia and Libya, which formed in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 uprisings that brought down their governments, Managing Transition analyses each interim government to enhance our understanding of how political transition occurred within two North African countries. Tracing the importance of the key decisions made during these transition periods, Sabina Henneberg demonstrates the importance of these decisions taken during the short phase between authoritarian collapse and first post-uprising elections, including decisions around leadership, institutional reform, transitional justice, and the electoral processes themselves. By documenting, in close detail, the important events of the 2011 Arab Uprisings, and the months that followed, this study shows that while pre-existing structures strongly influence the design and behaviour of first interim governments, actors' choices are equally important in shaping both immediate and longer-term phases of transition.


‘Managing Transition provides an exceptional and comprehensive chronicle of the micro-practices and difficult dilemmas faced by interim governments in Tunisia and Libya following the Arab Uprisings in 2011. It is a compelling analysis of decision-makers’ struggles with simultaneously enacting change and preserving continuity as the two nations undergo transition from authoritarian rule - Sabina Henneberg ultimately calls into question whether it is even possible to define the parameters of a ‘successful’ transition.’

Edwige Fortier - Research Associate, Department of Development Studies, SOAS

‘Sabina Henneberg elucidates the structural factors which incentivize first transitional governments to adopt populist, globalist, and usually dysfunctional policies. She shows how in Tunisia historical precedent and coalition building laid the groundwork for a constitutional transition, while in Libya, feckless leadership set the groundwork for appeasement and state implosion.’

Jason Pack - Non-Resident Fellow at the Middle East Institute and Founder of Libya-Analysis LLC

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