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How serious is the threat to Tunisian democracy?
The Hundred #27: August 25, 2022
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“Tunisia’s democracy is on life support. President Kais Saied, following his self-coup, succeeded in erasing nearly a decade of democratic gains. The revised constitution, which came about through an undemocratic and flawed process, removed checks and balances, and codified an autocratic state where the president has unparalleled power. However, many Tunisians from across the political spectrum remain committed to a democratic future. While Saied may have destroyed the institutional backbone of democracy, he has not been able to dampen the desire of those who wish to have a voice in their country and seek accountability from their leaders.”
“The threats to Tunisian democracy are numerous. First of all, after a decade of economic and security troubles, and a sustained local and regional counterrevolution, democracy became synonymous with chaos in the view of many Tunisians. At the same time, Tunisian political parties proved incapable of managing a country. Then, because of their capacities and the legitimacy they gained fighting terrorism, the security and military forces remain highly popular and beyond scrutiny, thus strengthening the strong (and authoritarian) state. The power grab of populist president Kais Saied, therefore, channeled both the anti-democracy feelings and the fantasies around the strong state.”
“Tunisia's democratization is facing a big and serious threat but not its first. Before Saied grabbed all powers, it was already a flawed democracy. Its main issues: socio-economic decline, widespread corruption, a faulty judicial and security apparatus, and enforced repressive laws, will continue to be the main challenges as they directly affect citizens’ lives. The events since last year only replaced a political class that engaged in self-centred consensus after another with a one-man rule, making it more difficult to influence policies and to reform. Tunisians either believe the future is bleak or prosperous, while the status quo spirals downwards.”
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