Is a new revolution on the horizon in Tunisia?

Is a new revolution on the horizon in Tunisia?

A flare-up of protests in Tunisia in early January had observers wondering whether the country was headed for renewed unrest and disarray. GRI asks: Will the upcoming elections – municipal in 2018, and then legislative in 2019 – serve as a catalyst?


The case that broader unrest is possible

Cecile Guerin argues that the elections come at a time of heightened risk:

“Tunisians will head to the polls on 6 May to vote in the first elections since the uprisings of the Arab Spring. This will be a test of the resilience of Tunisia’s political transition after the implementation of a new constitution in 2014 and the policies implemented by the coalition government led by Youssef Chahed. Successive governments have struggled to enact fiscal reforms and stabilise the country’s security environment since 2011. Enduring economic problems and slow growth have led to an increase in unemployment-related demonstrations and eroded public trust in state institutions. The risk of Islamist militant violence also remains high and threatens to spill over the Libya and Algeria borders.”

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The case that this time is different

Hauke Waszkewitz, based in Tunis, argues that the underlying reasons for the unrest are different from the Jasmine revolution seven years ago:

Young thugs broke into supermarkets and vandalised private property, yet they did so without any Salafist, nationalist or Marxist tendencies. These acts of violence constituted outbursts of anger among impoverished segments of the population, predominantly young, male, poorly educated and without real employment prospects in the dwindling job market. The price hikes and rising social inequality of the last seven years finally reached boiling point as families could barely afford to buy enough food and their children struggle to find jobs. Neither did the protests follow any political divisions, nor did the demonstrators demand civil rights or fundamental changes in the political system. Rather, the new financial law was the last straw to break the camel’s back.

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