chapter  1
State-building and independence in Tunisia
Pages 25

In early 1934, a bitter conflict wracked Tunisia's leading nationalist party, the Destour. Since the end of the First World War and the surge in nationalism that it generated, the Destour's leadership had relied on petitions, newspaper articles, and diplomatic delegations to encourage France to give Tunisians a larger role in their country's economic and political life. Instead, France had become a colonial overlord, controlling the government and the economy to serve French interests while most Tunisians remained poor and powerless. The founding of the Neo-Destour marked the beginning of the end of French rule in Tunisia. But the party was itself the product of a prolonged process of economic, social, and political development. Just one month after the French occupation of Algeria, the Tunisian government signed a treaty that granted France most favored nation status and strengthened the powers of European consuls to judge cases involving European citizens.