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The Democratic Constitutional Rally or Democratic Constitutional Assembly[1] (Arabic: التجمع الدستوري الديمقراطيat-Tajammu‘ ad-Dustūrī ad-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.[2][3]

Democratic Constitutional Rally

التجمع الدستوري الديمقراطي
French nameRassemblement constitutionnel démocratique
Founded27 February 1988 (1988-02-27)
Banned9 March 2011 (2011-03-09)
Preceded bySocialist Destourian Party (formally)
Succeeded byseveral offshoots
HeadquartersAvenue Mohammed V
Student wingERCD
Youth wingJCD
Membership2,500,000 (2010)
IdeologyTunisian nationalism
SloganMaan Narfa3 Al Ta7adiyete, Maan men Ajli Tounes Maan


History and profileEdit

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).[4]

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.

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.[5] The following year, President Ben Ali instituted economic reforms increasing economic privatization and renamed the party the Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD).[4]

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.[6] 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 President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to resign and leave Tunisia.[7]

In response to the RCD government's attempt to suppress the protests, the Socialist International expelled the RCD on 17 January 2011—three days after Ben Ali fled the country.[8] 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[9] and all remaining RCD-aligned ministers resigned their party memberships on 20 January,[10] the effect of which left the RCD with only a parliamentary majority. 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.[11] On 9 March, the party was dissolved by the Tunisian courts.[3]



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

Electoral historyEdit

Presidential electionsEdit

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

Chamber of Deputies electionsEdit

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

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Entry for "Democratic Constitutional Rally" in the Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ a b "Tunisia dissolves Ben Ali party". Al-Jazeera English. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Tunisia: Politics, Government and Taxation". Encyclopedia of Nations. 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  5. ^ Paul Delaney (9 November 1987). "Senile Bourguiba Described in Tunis". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  6. ^ "Final Results of Presidential and Legislative Elections". Presidential and Legislative Elections in Tunisia. 26 October 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2010.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Empathy for Tunisian discontent in France Euronews, 13 January 2011
  8. ^ SI decision on Tunisia Socialist International, 17 January 2011
  9. ^ "State TV: 2 top officials depart Ben Ali's party In Tunisia". CNN. 19 January 2011.
  10. ^ Lin Noueihed and Matthew Jones (20 January 2011). "All Tunisian ministers quit ruling party- state TV". Reuters.
  11. ^ "Tunisia suspends Ben Ali's RCD party". BBC News. 2 June 2011.