Tunisia’s new constitution expands presidential power. What’s next for its democracy?

Tunisia’s new constitution expands presidential power. What’s next for its democracy?

Thursday, July 28, 2022

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun;  Thomas M. Hill;  Leo Siebert

A year after Tunisian President Kais Saied began a series of moves that expanded presidential powers, a new constitution further empowering the presidency has been approved by referendum. Amid a dire economic crisis, many Tunisians expressed support for Saied’s moves, as the promise of the 2011 uprising evaporated over the last decade. While the referendum passed with 94 percent of the vote, only 30 percent of Tunisians participated. Once heralded as the sole democratic success of the Arab uprisings, Tunisia’s democratic future trajectory is more uncertain than ever following the constitutional referendum.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceEconomics

What’s Next for Tunisia’s Transition?

What’s Next for Tunisia’s Transition?

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun;  Leo Siebert

Long heralded as the sole success story of the Arab uprisings, Tunisia was thrown into political tumult on July 25 when President Kais Saied dismissed the prime minister, suspended parliament and removed politicians’ immunity from criminal prosecution. The decision followed days of protest and long-term malaise, with Tunisians angered over the government’s COVID response, endemic corruption, a lagging economy and, more broadly, the inability of the post-Ben Ali political system — particularly political parties — to deliver for citizens. While many Tunisians supported Saied’s move, they and the international community await what comes next and how it will impact the North African country’s long-term political and economic trajectory.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Where Does Tunisia’s Transition Stand 10 Years After Ben Ali?

Where Does Tunisia’s Transition Stand 10 Years After Ben Ali?

Thursday, January 14, 2021

By: Leo Siebert

The story by now is well known. Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in December 2010 sparked an unprecedented wave of protests across Tunisia and the broader region. Less than a month later, the country’s longtime dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled to Saudi Arabia. That was 10 years ago today. And while Tunisia is often lauded as the “lone success story” of the uprisings that swept across the region, its democratic transition remains in limbo. A decade later, Tunisians have seen hard-won improvements in political freedoms, but a lagging economy and sclerotic politics have stunted the realization of many of the protesters’ demands—and kept them in the streets.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Tunisia’s Transition Hits a Rough Patch Following COVID Lockdown

Tunisia’s Transition Hits a Rough Patch Following COVID Lockdown

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

By: Leo Siebert

Since uprisings swept the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, Tunisia has long been regarded as the lone democratic success story. But nearly 10 years later, volatile party politics and authoritarian legacies continue to plague the transition. The October 2019 election cycle, marked by low voter turnout, demonstrated Tunisians deep disenchantment with the political class for its failure to address the grievances that sparked the ouster of longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. After the elections, a government was not formed until February 2020. But months later, Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh resigned over allegations of conflicts of interest. In recent weeks, the political landscape has shifted rapidly. USIP’s Leo Siebert examines the political wrangling and Tunisia’s post-election political struggles.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Tunisia’s transition has unfinished business. Can Ennahda lead the way?

Tunisia’s transition has unfinished business. Can Ennahda lead the way?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

By: Adam Gallagher

Fresh off a busy election season, Prime Minister-designate Habib Jemli is in the process of forming Tunisia’s next government. That government will have the daunting task of addressing Tunisians’ deep disenchantment with the political class and its failures to live up to the promise of the 2010-2011 uprising that led to the overthrow of longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. “The big problems confronting Tunisians have not been given enough importance” from the country’s political parties, said Abdelfattah Mourou, the first presidential candidate of the Ennahda party, during an interview at USIP.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Tunisia’s Split Parliamentary Vote Could Force Unconventional Alliances

Tunisia’s Split Parliamentary Vote Could Force Unconventional Alliances

Thursday, October 10, 2019

By: Leo Siebert

Tunisia’s busy election season continued October 6 with parliamentary elections, the country’s third legislative vote since the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Only a few weeks ago, voters went to the polls for first-round presidential elections. The results of that vote demonstrated Tunisians’ disenchantment with the ruling establishment. This past Sunday’s vote saw a host of new parties and movements voted into parliament, further complicating the formation of a new government. USIP’s Leo Siebert discusses who could form a ruling coalition and how the parliamentary elections could impact the second-round presidential polls on October 13.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Leo Siebert on Tunisia’s Presidential Elections

Leo Siebert on Tunisia’s Presidential Elections

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

By: Leo Siebert

Last week, Tunisians voted for “a wholesale dismissal of everyone who’s governed before” in the first round of presidential elections, said USIP’s Leo Siebert. And with parliamentary and runoff elections upcoming, a string of free and fair elections could help Tunisia “prove to the world, and be a model to its neighbors, that democracy is possible.”

Type: Podcast

Democracy & Governance

Tunisians Show Support for Democracy, Disillusionment with Ruling Elite

Tunisians Show Support for Democracy, Disillusionment with Ruling Elite

Monday, September 23, 2019

By: Adam Gallagher

The surprise results of Tunisia’s first-round presidential election gave a clear message to the country’s political establishment: Tunisians want change and they want it now. Neither of the two winning candidates set to face off in the second round have ever held political office nor are affiliated with the political parties that have led Tunisia’s transition. Many of the issues that sparked the uprising eight years ago—like corruption and unemployment—continue to bedevil the North African nation. Yet the first-round vote demonstrates that Tunisians aren’t willing to give up on democracy and want new leaders.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance