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Ghannouchi: A wise opposition leader or the victim of a soft coup

November 3, 2014 at 4:34 pm

I may not be able to provide a contrastive reading of the Tunisian elections after having read many conflicting visions and conclusions regarding the results of the elections. Some have congratulated the Tunisian people on their democratic experience while others held the Ennahda movement and its members responsible for something which was out of their hands.

These people have not realised that what has happened may have been the best result possible during the first half of this match. The Tunisian society is not Islamist in their nature and did not call on Ennahda to rule. The next few weeks are critical for the Tunisian revolution. Basically, either the counter-revolution will bare its fangs by eliminating the other party and monopolise the security, sovereign, and information institutions. It will take an eclectic path towards governance through an attempt to suffocate the opposition. Or, it will take a more moderate path that will prepare for a wise opposition in which Ghannouchi will play a new role, giving the Islamists a chance to give an example of a wise and mature opposition that respects the results of the ballot box. This path would be the smarter choice for the Call of Tunisia (Nidaa Tounes) party.

However, those who believe that the revolutions will go about their path undisturbed and success will be served on a silver platter are mistaken. The fruits of democracy will not be reaped without violent reactions from the counter-revolution. Yes, the Tunisian people are facing a counter-revolution with different mechanism than those in Romania at the hands of Ceausescu or in Egypt, Yemen, or Syria. Tunisia may be the luckiest country in terms of the counter-revolution against the people’s revolution.

This experience is a copy of what occurred in Egypt when Ahmed Shafiq won the presidential elections in 2012, but the revolutionary mood of the Egyptians at the time was higher and more intense, and despite this, the result of the clash with the counter-revolution was also tied.

We would be mistaken if we assumed that those opposed to the people’s revolutions and those working in the ranks of the rebels do not possess popular support giving it legitimacy. Many of the region’s people, according to the French writer Gustave Le Bon in his book The Psychology of Peoples, love life and are familiar with tyranny which rules them in the name of leadership and they do not think about the mechanisms of change, instead emptying the contents of their minds and being satisfied with the president and sole leader’s media.

Ghannouchi learned the lesson when he realised that he is facing a real counter-revolution and that the media and money are forming the Arab nations, as our nations are not formed by books, historians, and honourable elites as much as they are formed by the highest bidder.

The man who is being surrounded by political analyses from all sides seems more put together and harmonious with himself and understands his capabilities. He was very smart when making his statements in which he expressed his willingness to form a coalition government that would consist of various parties led by former officials serving during the former president’s term. This man understands the fact that the people’s transitional period requires two or three electoral cycles, at least, in order for the nation to grow democratically. He realised that he may lose the first half of the match until he arranges his cards, organises his ranks, and completes his preparations, but his performance requires patience, whether he will become an ally or oppose in the coming years.

He also accepted the counter-revolution and was able to contain its first wave without direct losses by means of the ballot box, thus emphasising the principle of jurisdiction to the people. The transitional phase may have gone on too long, which negatively impacted the results of the events that have occurred so far, so the citizens did not sense the real results of the revolution. Moreover, the Call of Tunisia party was formed after the previous elections, but the formation of the Arab public opinion has not been completed yet; it is still in its infancy. It seems that Ghannouchi beat his analysers and understood the new reality; he realised that the logic of numbers would not lead to a stable government. The political process is not only measured in the numbers from the ballot boxes and they are not an indication of the maturity and growth of the communities or its view of leaders; the process is also measured by the willingness of the other forces to cooperate to achieve interaction with new policies and the emerging forces, a matter the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was unable to realise.

During transitional periods, the task of rebuilding your capabilities and restructuring your staff members may be the most difficult task. Hard work in order to create a societal ranking would ensure that the governing authority would monopolise the leadership and there would be room for a wise opposition to play a vital role in popular movement. The opposition can also act as a wall against the return of the former tyrannical regime and will not give it a chance and time to rearrange its affairs in a manner that does not serve democratic change and the establishment of freedoms.

I cannot neglect to address the man’s professionalism in managing the most difficult stage of the revolution. He is a man who is not driven by events; he creates them. He was not tempted by forming a government, even though he came to power by majority rule. I can confidently say that he will also act professionally while dealing with the other parties in order to form an opposition, and he will go back to the masses in order to deepen his organisation. We must remember that these men have only began seeing work being done out in the open and transparently four years ago. They need to develop their thoughts and build their cadres for opposition work in order to prepare themselves for the upcoming authority.

The Muslim Brotherhood experience in Egypt has shown that the formation of charismatic cadres can convince the masses that they possess professional plans and concepts regarding management and leadership, and this is something the Islamic trend is greatly lacking in, even though the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has one of the best cadres. However, the experience was a true test at least in terms of choosing their cadres. The political match is still in play and anyone can win the presidential elections. The Brotherhood can use its alliances to create a new balance and I believe that this man is good at reading the chessboard in a manner that will ensure his survival on the field and will ensure that he remain a strong competitor either in a wise opposition or ruling coalition.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.