Will Nida Tunis free the potential of Tunisia?
Financial Times28.10.2014Read original
The victory of the secular party Nida Tunis brings hope that stability, investment and tourism might return in Tunisia, provided that they manage forming an efficient Government, in spite of the problems of coalition politics.
Hopes are high for Tunisia’s economy after Nida Tunis, the country’s main secular party, won power in the second free election since an uprising that cast out autocrat Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
That was the Arab spring’s first revolution and since then Tunisia has fared better than its neighbours. It has avoided the turmoil of Egypt, the chaos of post-Qaddafi Libya and the civil war of Syria.
But while it has sidestepped the violence that hit other countries, it has not had an easy time. A three-party government led by the Nahda party, which had been accused of mismanaging the economy and failing to curtail a small but dangerous Jihadist movement, was forced to stand down last year.
Tunisia then approved a new constitution, which has been praised for enshrining principles of neutrality and transparency into law, and put in place a caretaker government of technocrats who set about preparing for fresh elections.
Polls have indicated that the economy is Tunisians’ highest priority. A recent World Bank report describes how rigid red tape and misconceived policies – introduced by the ousted president but still in place – have stultified the economy, preventing investment and job creation. That report says that:
Tunisia presents an economic paradox. It has everything it needs to become a “Tiger of the Mediterranean”, yet this economic potential never seems to materialize.
Capital Economics said in a note that the election was “another important step in Tunisia’s long and bumpy road to democracy” and that there were two obvious outcomes to Tunis’s win.
The peaceful nature of the elections suggested that political stability was returning to the country, which may prompt firms to resume investment projects as well as attract foreign investment. Moreover, an easing of security concerns would help to lift the tourism sector out of its recent slump.
This should lay the foundations for a gradual acceleration in growth over the coming years – GDP growth has languished around 2.5% since 2011
The election result bodes well for the election agenda . Nidaa Tounes has outlined plans to push ahead with deeper subsidy cuts, promote foreign investment and continue the country’s cooperation with the IMF. This should help ease feats over Tunisia’s large twin current and budget deficits.
Tunisians will now be watching as Tunis forms a new government before presidential elections take place in just under a month’s time.