The ‘Jasmine Revolution’ that toppled Tunisian president Zine al-‘Abidine Ben ‘Ali on 14 January 2011, and the 25 January 2011 uprising that toppled Egyptian President Husni Mubarak had similar characteristics yet different outcomes. While the Tunisian experience led to democratization and to a non-violent transfer of power, the Egyptian one led to a reversion to authoritarianism through a military coup and to bloodshed. This paper suggests that the key to understanding the diverse outcomes of the Arab Spring in these countries is the prevalence of consensus/dissensus in each society over the most suitable state model for the post-revolutionary era. The existence of an agreed-upon vision for the post-Arab Spring state in Tunisia—a vision of a ‘civil state’—and a wide controversy over such a model in Egypt was a pivotal factor influencing the level of socio-political cohesion during the transitional period, hence determining whether it is destined for success or failure. A prior agreement between Islamist and Secularist opposition groups over the civil state model spared Tunisia the turmoil that Egypt went through due to the polarization over the desired state model in the post-Mubarak era, which served as a catalyst for the 2013 soft coup against the Muslim Brothers elected president.
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© 2019 British Society for Middle Eastern Studies.