Progressive Democratic Party (Tunisia)

Progressive Democratic Party
الحزب الديمقراطي التقدمي
French name Parti démocrate progressiste
Abbreviation PDP
Former secretary-generals Ahmed Najib Chebbi (1983–2006)
Maya Jribi (2006–2012)
Founded 1983 (1983)
Legalized 12 September 1988
Dissolved April 9, 2012 (2012-04-09)
Preceded by Progressive Socialist Rally
Merged into Republican Party
Ideology Liberalism,[1]

The Progressive Democratic Party (Arabic: الحزب الديمقراطي التقدمي, al-Ḥizb ad-Dīmuqrāṭī at-Taqaddumī; French: Parti démocrate progressiste), also referred to by its acronym PDP, was a secular liberal political party in Tunisia.

History and profile

The Progressive Democratic Party was founded under the name of Progressive Socialist Rally in 1983, gained legal recognition on 12 September 1988[5] and was renamed Progressive Democratic Party in 2001. Under the rule of Ben Ali it was a legal opposition party, but subjected to political repression.[6] After the Tunisian revolution it was one of the major left-leaning secular political forces.[7] It was led by Ahmed Najib Chebbi and Maya Jribi. On 9 April 2012, it merged into the Republican Party.

The Progressive Democratic Party had a newspaper, Al-Mawqif.[5][8]

Under the Ben Ali rule

In its beginnings, the Progressive Socialist Rally (now PDP) gathered a broad range of currents from Marxists and pro-democracy activists to progressive Muslims.[9] During the Ben Ali rule, Najib Chebbi and the PDP were harassed by the police for years, and verbally attacked by state-run media.[10] After unsuccessfully participating in elections from 1989 to 1999, the party decided to boycott the elections of 2004 and 2009.[11] Therefore, it was unrepresented in the Tunisian parliament. After the Ben Ali administration announced to force the party to move their headquarters from Tunis, its leaders Najib Chebbi and Maya Jribi engaged in a 20-days hunger strike, which earned the party attention and prompted the administration to revoke their decision.[11]

After the Tunisian revolution

Following the 2010–2011 Tunisian protests, shootings outside PDP's headquarters were reported on 16 January 2011.[12] The next day, on 17 January, party leader Najib Chebbi, was named Regional Development Minister in the interim government.[10] Ahead of the Constituent Assembly election, the PDP evolved into a main exponent of the centre-left secular camp and rival of the Islamist Ennahda Movement.[4][7] In the run-up to the elections, the Progressive Democrats have received quite an amount of financial support which enabled the party for a lavish campaign. Critics claim that an important part of the funding came from businesspeople close to the old Ben Ali power elite.[13]

In the election for a constituent assembly, the PDP won 3.9% of the popular vote and 16 of 217 seats in the National Constituent Assembly, putting it at the fifth place. As the party had categorically ruled out any collaboration with the victorious Islamist Ennahda Movement, the Progressive Democrats went into opposition and belong to the outspoken critics of the governing coalition of the Islamists with the secular CPR and Ettakatol parties. After the electoral defeat, the PDP launched talks with other secularist and liberal parties to form a "big party of the centre". The merger was realised on the PDP's fifth congress on 9 April 2012. The new party is called the Republican Party and comprises, in addition to the PDP, the Afek Tounes party, several extra-parliamentary parties and independents.[14]


  1. David Kirkpatrick (8 June 2011), "Tunisia Postpones Election, Possibly Aiding New Parties", New York Times, retrieved 21 October 2011
  2. "Factbox - How Tunisia's election will work", Reuters, 22 October 2011, retrieved 22 October 2011
  3. Rachel Shabi (21 October 2011), "From Arab Spring to elections: Tunisia steps into a new era", The Independent, retrieved 22 October 2011
  4. 1 2 Sam Bollier (9 October 2011), "Who are Tunisia's political parties?", Al Jazeera English, retrieved 22 October 2011
  5. 1 2 "Tunisia - Opposition Parties". Global Security. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  6. Angelique Chrisafis (19 October 2011), "Tunisian elections: the key parties", The Guardian, retrieved 22 October 2011
  7. 1 2 Celeste Hicks (21 October 2011), "Tunisia election: Loving and loathing Islamists", BBC News, retrieved 22 October 2011
  8. "Tunisia's Media Landscape" (Report). International Media Support. June 2002. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  9. Emily Parker (6 September 2011), Maya Jribi,, retrieved 21 October 2011
  10. 1 2 Who are Tunisia's main opposition figures?, Reuters, 17 January 2011, retrieved 22 October 2011
  11. 1 2 Eymen Gamha (9 October 2011), Progressive Democratic Party,, retrieved 21 October 2011
  12. "Tunisia situation remains tense". Al Jazeera English. 16 January 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  13. David D. Kirkpatrick (22 October 2011). "Financing Questions Shadow Tunisian Vote, First of Arab Spring". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  14. Benzarti, Hichem (10 April 2012), "Un congrès unificateur des forces démocratiques centristes", La Presse de Tunisie
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