Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Tunisia delays the return to democracy

Written by Gérard Tur on Tuesday, December 14th 2021 à 16:50 | Read 288 times

Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed intends to keep full powers at least until December 2022, when he will hold legislative elections.

Kaïs Saïed governs Tunisia alone (photo: Presidency of the Tunisian Republic)
Kaïs Saïed governs Tunisia alone (photo: Presidency of the Tunisian Republic)
Clearly, the Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed has a taste for the state of exception. Last July, he suspended parliament, dismissed the government and arrogated to himself very extensive powers, particularly political and judicial, by declaring several key articles of the 2014 Constitution inapplicable. Since this summer, Kaïs Saïed has been the strong man of the country with a parliament in forced recess and a government without real powers.
In a speech to the nation on 13 December 2021, he announced that he would not be handing over the keys to the country as quickly as he had suggested during his muted coup. He extended the suspension of parliament until 17 December 2022 and the holding of new legislative elections. He also announces a change in the constitution and new electoral rules. He promises a referendum on these "reforms" in July 2022.

The Tunisian parliament is therefore no longer suspended, but well and truly dissolved.
These announcements follow just a few days after the signature by the ambassadors of the G7 countries (United States, France, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, European Union), the main donors who are keeping Tunisia's head above water, of a joint declaration calling for a "rapid" return to democratic institutions in Tunisia. They want a "rapid return to the functioning of democratic institutions, with an elected parliament playing a meaningful role".
The Kaïs Saïed clan did not appreciate this and the President has just responded by giving a precise timetable as requested, but forgetting the notion of speed.


In the streets, Tunisians are relatively calmly watching this consolidation of the power of President Kaïs Saïed. More than a support, it seems to be a disinterest. According to a survey by two Tunisian organisations, the National Migration Observatory (ONM) and the National Institute of Statistics (INS), 20% of Tunisians, 40% of 15-29 year olds, want to leave the country. Like the Lebanese, they no longer believe they have a future on their native soil.
The unemployment rate exceeds 18%, growth is struggling to take off again (3% expected in 2021), the foreign debt reached 97.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020, a record in the southern Mediterranean. Tunisia has asked the IMF (International Monetary Fund) for 3.3 billion euros in aid, the equivalent of its public deficit. The public debt represents 81.5% of its GDP according to the African Development Bank.

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