In Tunisia, attempts to “save the country”


The president of the Tunisian electoral body was banking on a rebound in participation for the second round of legislative elections this Sunday, January 29, after the fiasco of the first round on December 17. Alas, the disaffection is just as massive, with an abstention rate of nearly 89%.

The 154 elected (1), of whom only a dozen are women, have no legitimacy in the eyes of the political parties excluded from this single-member ballot designed by President Kaïs Saïed who cultivates a hatred against them and has granted himself the full powers in 2021. The five parties, including the Islamists of Ennahda, united within the National Salvation Front have thus called for “to work hand in hand to create change by the departure of Kaïs Saïed and going to an early presidential election”.

“There is no political alternative”

“But the opposition is split into three irreconcilable blocs,” comments Hatem Nafti, author of Tunisia, towards an authoritarian populism? (2). ” On the one hand, he details, the Islamists and their allies who want to return to power without learning from their failures; on the other, the party of Abir Moussi, from the dissolved party of ex-president Ben Ali, which wants to return to the old regime and close the parenthesis of the democratic transition opened in 2011; and finally the parties of the center and of the left, allied to the defenders of human rights, themselves very divided. »

“There is no political alternative”, summarizes, concisely, the sociologist Mehdi Mabrouk. And Tunisia is sinking month after month into what some call a “Lebanization” of the country made up of shortages, inflation, degradation of public services, informal trade and migration flight. Faced with this disintegration, Kaïs Saïed certainly loses its aura. “But he still remains in the lead in the polls”, observes Hatem Nafti.


A quartet to save what was the pearl of the Arab Spring

And according to him, the boycott of the poll is directed as much against the president as against the discredited political parties. Almost all Tunisians applauded when Kaïs Saïed carried out his coup on July 25, 2021 and suspended a parliament that had been a miserable spectacle, unable to stimulate the smooth running of the country. Including the powerful UGTT trade union center and other civil society organizations which today seek to organize themselves to “save the country”.

The UGTT has joined forces with the League for Human Rights, the Bar Association and the Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), to form a “quartet”, dreaming of once again taking on the role as a scout in the country, like the quartet created in 2013 when Tunisia threatened to slide into civil war. This earned them a Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.

“Three political, economic and social commissions have been created within the quartet and are giving themselves a month to give a roadmap to the president and the population”, says Abderrahman Hedhili, president of the FTDES, who wants to believe that history can repeat itself to save once again what was the pearl of the Arab spring.

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