World news, Politics
With New President, Tunisia Hopes for Economic Stability
International Policy Digest15.01.2015Read original
Tunisia’s new elected president brings hope for economic stability to a country drained by a four-year democratic transition. But there is a lot of work ahead. Beji Caid Essebsi and his new administration will have to deal with a number of challenges, particularly its troubled economy and unemployment. He will also have to manage the relations with his neighbors in a region shaken by events in Lybia and Syria. But Tunisia’s success so far confirms that democracy and Islam are in no way incompatible. In time, its new secular democracy can offer a model for other countries in the region.
Garnering over 55 percent of the vote, Beji Caid Essebsi achieved a decisive victory that gives the Nidaa Tounes party the helm of both parliament and presidency. Largely secular, Nidaa Tounes assumed control of parliament in elections last October, replacing the mainly Islamist interim government that served following Ben Ali’s ouster in 2011.While fairly decisive, the contentious presidential election underscores the lingering divisions among the Tunisian public. Coming in second was Moncef Markouzi, the three-year interim president tasked with bringing stability to Tunisia following twenty years of dictatorship.
Markouzi, whose coalition includes Tunisia’s main Islamist parties, warned that Essebsi’s victory allows one party to dominate Tunisian politics once again. It is unclear how true these expressed fears are. Essebsi, who served as a senior official under Tunisia’s past two autocrats, is still seen by many Tunisians as a haunting reminder of the country’s authoritarian past. The newly elected president claims, however, that his 40 years of experience will provide the security and economic stability the interim government could not deliver. And Tunisians, fatigued by three years of political transition, have demonstrated they prefer a leader with a “strong hand” who is able to stabilize the country[…]