The Speaker of Parliament and leader of the Ennahda movement has said that Tunisia needs help from its international partners. "Especially those who believe in democracy, as it is unable to implement all the reforms on its own," Rached Ghannouchi wrote in USA Today. "Tunisia," he added, "is still a democracy in the making."
Ghannouchi stressed that the riots that erupted in some cities during recent weeks have underlined the need for further action. "This is in light of the Tunisian people' frustration regarding the slow progress of economic reform since the revolution, apart from the fact that no job opportunities have been created and there has not been an improvement in the quality of life as expected."
He pointed out that Tunisia made history ten years ago, after its youth's determination to trigger the revolution of freedom and dignity. "It has already entered a difficult transition phase from authoritarian rule to democracy and has become a beacon of hope for those who believe in Arab democracy. Despite this progress, we are witnessing the rise of movements that evoke nostalgia for the old system, and seek to return to the authoritarian past of the domination of one ruler, instead of pluralism and compromise characterising the democratic system."
Explaining the reasons behind this phenomenon, the veteran politician said: "The first is the struggle of a large part of the world, including the United States, to combat populism, which tends to prosper in times of crisis and social and economic turmoil. The populist narrative is dangerous and is based on the opposition between a homogenous group of people against other persons who are easily scapegoated, whether they belong to the elite or a minority."
The Parliamentary Speaker said that the tension in his country has been triggered by an attack on democratic institutions, elected officials and political parties. This is disrupting their work and fuelling the idea that all of the complex and profound social and economic challenges can be solved by returning to the rule of a more efficient and strong leader, or handing the country over to "a good dictator". He suggested that all revolutions are deemed to be followed by movements and narratives that are hostile to the revolutionary spirit and seek to impede or nullify any progress that may compromise their privileges and interests.
"At the same time," confirmed Ghannouchi, "we can be proud of the remarkable achievements that Tunisia has made over the past ten years, after establishing new democratic institutions, resolving conflicts peacefully, promoting a culture of political inclusion, and prioritising the protection of human rights, gender equality and the rule of law, as well as setting new standards for state accountability and transparency."