Infrastructure Provision, Politics and Religion: Insights from Tunisia’s new democracy

This paper analyzes the relationship between access to infrastructure services and support for religious parties based on the evidence produced by a recent democratic experience in Tunisia in which a religious political party, Ennahdha, governed from 2011 to 2014. The experience points to a complex relationship. In the 2011 election, areas with higher access are associated with higher support for Ennahdha than areas with lower access. In the 2014 election, however, infrastructure access is positively correlated with support for the party in areas where access had improved but negatively correlated with support for the party in areas that already had high access. A possible pragmatic general implication is that, to be politically competitive, religious parties, cannot bet solely on their religious commitment to provide basic services, including infrastructure, to the poor. They need to recognize the multiplicity of voter’s concerns and their evolving agenda.