Tunisia Since 2006
In 2006, Tunisia celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of independence with great emphasis. The following year, President Zayn al-῾Abidīn Ben ῾Alī (v.) celebrated his twenty years in power, pending the electoral consultations of October 2009, which saw him confirmed as president of the country for his fifth consecutive term: in these elections for the first time Ben ῾Alī went down by just below the 90% threshold of electoral consensus. With a highly educated population, significant tourist flows and a lower poverty line than many African countries, Tunisia could boast significant economic growth. Opposition protests, censored and silenced in no uncertain terms, failed to dent a deeply despotic and corrupt regime, but underpinned by an alliance with the West (France and Italy were the country’s major trading partners).
In this general context, at the end of 2010 in Tunisia symbolically and in a lightning-fast way, the ‘spring’ of the Arab world began, when a young peddler, tired of being harassed by the local police, set himself on fire on 17 December in the town of Sidi Bouzid. Shortly thereafter, faced with the rioting squares clamoring for the democratization of the political system, the regime collapsed with extraordinary speed and on January 14, 2011 Ben ῾Alī fled to Saudi Arabia with his whole family. In the same weeks, Ennahda (Rebirth) was legalized, the moderate Islamic movement linked to one of the oldest and most influential political-religious fundamentalist organizations of Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood (see Muslim brotherhood).
The elections of the Constituent Assembly of 23 October 2011 recorded a large turnout: over 90% of the voters went to the polls which sanctioned the success of Ennahda, but also the important affirmation of the secular parties, including the Congress for the republic, led by one of the historical leaders of the opposition, Moncef Marzouki, who in December 2011 was elected president of the Republic by the Constituent Assembly. The transitional government, led by Ennahda, also took office in December. Unlike Egypt, where spontaneous protest was ridden by the Muslim Brotherhood, capable of taking command of the revolt at the right moment, or Syria, which fell into civil war, in Tunisia the political forces involved in change, albeit in deep divisions internal. For Tunisia 2006, please check computergees.com.
In this long gestation phase of the Charter, further dangers for the democratization process came to light with the assassination of two leaders of the Tunisian left, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi (respectively in February and July 2013), and with the failure of the Ennahda’s experience of government, which with its immobility had opened the way to a strong discontent, generated by the increase in social inequality, and to a dangerous interference of the most extremist currents of religious fundamentalism. The legislative elections of October 2014 recorded the success of the lay formation Appello of Tunisia, led by Béji Caïd Essebsi (al-Bājī Qā᾽id alSabsī), a politician already close to al-Ḥabīb Bourguiba and one of the protagonists of the transitional phase after the 2011 uprising.
In this internal scenario and in the wider panorama, which saw the transnational affirmation of the Islamic State in Syria, Egypt and Libya (see IS), on March 18, 2015 there was a terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis which resulted in death of 24 people, mostly tourists; on 29 March an anti-terrorism procession paraded through the streets of Tunis with the presence of numerous heads of state. Three months later, on June 26, a new attack claimed by IS in the tourist resort of Port El-Kantaoui, near Susa, killed 38 tourists.
Despite the risks of destabilization produced by the attacks, the country tried to defend the political conquests following the ‘jasmine revolution’. In this context, a prestigious international recognition for the contribution of civil society to the development of a pluralistic democracy in the country came in October 2015, when the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to the Tunisian Quartet for National Dialogue, made up of the organizations of the Tunisian General Union of Labor, the Tunisian Union of Industry, Commerce and Crafts, the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights and the Tunisian National Bar Association.