After the ouster of Ben Ali, the country has entered a new stage of its democratic history, which is still ongoing today, on the seventh anniversary of the events. We have to remember that other countries (Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Libya, etc.) have had similar waves of protests, but only Tunisia, with its critical approach, continues to celebrate its revolution and its democratic transition. As Gramsci wrote, “the crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born.” If we perform a quick assessment, however, a lot has been accomplished: freedom of expression, elections, a Constitution, a democratically elected government and president of the republic, success in the fight against terrorism, a civil war prevented thanks to a national dialogue, and so on. But many things still need to be done: successful municipal elections, and especially economic reforms to combat youth unemployment, a true scourge in this country.
Is the Nidaa Tounes-Ennahda coalition ruling the country in an effective manner, or is there a risk of an authoritarian drift, as the protests of recent days are accusing?
The term “coalition,” in my opinion, is not the best one to describe the coexistence of two opposing forces, one conservative (Ennahda), which has accepted a compromise in a democratic fashion, and the other progressive (Nidaa Tounes), which did not obtain a majority to govern alone [they received 86 seats out of the 109 needed for a majority]. This was a solution that can be considered “Tunisian-style,” to avoid a dangerous political impasse after the legislative elections of 2014 and to avert the risk of a civil war. However, the national unity government, which formed as a result of the signing of the Carthage Declaration and the push by the Nobel-prize-winning National Dialogue Quartet, brought together different forces without a well-defined development program, which is the cause behind the current political crisis, the decision of the two parties to run separately in the coming elections, and the recent erroneous and reactionary economic choices.