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Politics in Tunisia - statistics & facts

On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a young demonstrator, set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, after being mistreated by local authorities. His self-immolation was the beginning of a series of protests that rapidly escalated in the country. The Jasmine Revolution had just started. In the following months, uprisings spread in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), beginning what would be known as the Arab Spring. Protesters demonstrated against the current political elite, as well as for greater freedom and socio-economic reforms. In Tunisia, the uprisings led to the end of Ben Ali’s rule and free elections in 2011. Nevertheless, general discontent for the country’s social, economic, and political environment remained in recent years. In July 2021, Tunisia faced a political crisis. In that period, protests were registered in several cities, with demonstrators demanding economic reforms and protesting against the government's mishandling of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. President Kais Saied then announced the suspension of the Parliament and dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi on July 25, 2021.

Democratic progress?

Tunisia is a democratic republic since 1957. It has a President as head of state and a Prime Minister as head of government, while the parliament, the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, holds legislative power. Before the independence, the country had been under French rule from 1881 to 1956, from which it inherited the judicial system. Unicameral legislation was adopted in 2011. Contrary to other countries, the Arab Spring in Tunisia led to political change, ending over 20 years of dictatorship. In recent years, Tunisia claimed the highest democracy index in North Africa, with the score rising significantly post-revolution. Nevertheless, a large 20 percent of the population did not consider Tunisia democratic as of 2020, while the majority of Tunisians believed the country’s democracy presented major issues.

Challenges post-revolution

Around 10 years after the uprisings, questions arise on the effectiveness of the revolution. While public opinion agrees that freedom of expression has increased after 2011, national security, human rights, and justice remain critical. Moreover, Tunisians feel that the government is neither addressing their needs nor prioritizing socio-economic reforms, aiming, for example, at tackling unemployment. Widespread corruption, especially among public institutions, also contributes to questions about the success of the uprisings. For these reasons, trust in public institutions was not high in 2020, with politicians and political parties being the least trusted public figures.

Political interest and participation

People’s interest in politics in Tunisia was low in recent years. Moreover, according to a survey conducted in 2019, less than half of the population was informed about political events in the country. Yet Tunisia had the highest rate in North Africa. Political participation also raises the issue of gender disparity. Similar to the majority of countries worldwide, Tunisian political offices are male-dominated. In 2020, the country obtained an extremely low score on the gender gap index in terms of political empowerment, underlining the very limited political role women play in the country.

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Politics in Tunisia - statistics & facts

On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a young demonstrator, set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, after being mistreated by local authorities. His self-immolation was the beginning of a series of protests that rapidly escalated in the country. The Jasmine Revolution had just started. In the following months, uprisings spread in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), beginning what would be known as the Arab Spring. Protesters demonstrated against the current political elite, as well as for greater freedom and socio-economic reforms. In Tunisia, the uprisings led to the end of Ben Ali’s rule and free elections in 2011. Nevertheless, general discontent for the country’s social, economic, and political environment remained in recent years. In July 2021, Tunisia faced a political crisis. In that period, protests were registered in several cities, with demonstrators demanding economic reforms and protesting against the government's mishandling of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. President Kais Saied then announced the suspension of the Parliament and dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi on July 25, 2021.

Democratic progress?

Tunisia is a democratic republic since 1957. It has a President as head of state and a Prime Minister as head of government, while the parliament, the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, holds legislative power. Before the independence, the country had been under French rule from 1881 to 1956, from which it inherited the judicial system. Unicameral legislation was adopted in 2011. Contrary to other countries, the Arab Spring in Tunisia led to political change, ending over 20 years of dictatorship. In recent years, Tunisia claimed the highest democracy index in North Africa, with the score rising significantly post-revolution. Nevertheless, a large 20 percent of the population did not consider Tunisia democratic as of 2020, while the majority of Tunisians believed the country’s democracy presented major issues.

Challenges post-revolution

Around 10 years after the uprisings, questions arise on the effectiveness of the revolution. While public opinion agrees that freedom of expression has increased after 2011, national security, human rights, and justice remain critical. Moreover, Tunisians feel that the government is neither addressing their needs nor prioritizing socio-economic reforms, aiming, for example, at tackling unemployment. Widespread corruption, especially among public institutions, also contributes to questions about the success of the uprisings. For these reasons, trust in public institutions was not high in 2020, with politicians and political parties being the least trusted public figures.

Political interest and participation

People’s interest in politics in Tunisia was low in recent years. Moreover, according to a survey conducted in 2019, less than half of the population was informed about political events in the country. Yet Tunisia had the highest rate in North Africa. Political participation also raises the issue of gender disparity. Similar to the majority of countries worldwide, Tunisian political offices are male-dominated. In 2020, the country obtained an extremely low score on the gender gap index in terms of political empowerment, underlining the very limited political role women play in the country.

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