Tunisia’s Thrillingly Boring Elections | Tunisia 4


Hey There. In July of 2019, Beji Caid Essebsi, the President
of Tunisia died. He had been a key consensus figure in the
years after Tunisia ejected their 24 year dictator in 2011. Some commenters worried that this would have
a destabilizing effect. Without this key politician, would Tunisia’s
fragile democracy dissolve into chaos? Governments in the region usually depend on
personal politics and strongman figures after all… Would Essebsi’s death lead to the same sort
of chaos we’ve seen everywhere else in the region, and that Tunisia had miraculously
avoided since they kicked off the Arab Spring in December of 2010? Nope. They just moved the election up by a month
or so. The election was quite straightforward, and
even a little boring. Tunisia now has its second president in a
row elected in a free and fair election. But presidents are a lot less powerful in
the Tunisian system than they are in the United States. What probably mattered more in 2019, was the
Parliamentary election that took place on October 6th. A lot of pundits, including this guy, were
very worried about what might happen. Would Tunisia’s delicate balance finally tip
over into violent disaster? Again nope. The parliamentary elections were kind of boring. But this boredom is thrilling! In a region where constant chaos seems to
be the norm, Tunisia has continued to stand out. In the first years after the Arab Spring,
many countries looked to be embarking on serious experiments in representative government. Egypt got its first popularly elected President
in 2012. Libya had elections in 2012 too. Yemen never managed an election with more
than one candidate, but its national dialogue process looked promising. All of these experiments now look like failures. Egypt’s only democratically elected president
died in prison and he’s been replaced by a dictatorship worse than the one that was toppled
in 2011. Libya and Yemen have both fallen into civil
war due to a combination of internal discord and greed and savage external proxy warring
and invasion. In 2013, it looked like Tunisia might be heading
in the same direction. A series of assassinations, escalating protests
and political gridlock between secular and Islamist leaning political forces looked to
be tearing Tunisia apart. Instead, in 2014 a bunch of civil society
groups got together and came to an agreement that kept the peace. Crucially Enahda, the traditional Islamist
group, agreed not to use it’s position as the most powerful party to push it’s agenda
through against the will of the majority. Tunisia was stable for 5 years, but I was
not optimistic about the 2019 elections CLIP “nobody is happy. The economy is a disaster. A series of terrorist attacks in 2015 and
2016 almost killed the lucrative European tourist market. More and more Tunisians are beginning to wonder
whether this whole democracy thing is worth it. Yippee, they’ve got free speech and assembly,
but living standards have not improved significantly since 2011, and the pace of protest seems
to be picking up. Even worse, under all this stress, it seems
like the Islamist and secularist parties are beginning to do a slow motion version of what
killed Egyptian democracy back in 2013. The Islamist party is a little stronger in
elections, so the secularists have been threatening to declare them a terrorist group. Even worse, the International Crisis group
reports that the secular party is reaching out to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to help them
crush the idea of Islamic democracy. The Islamists are reacting to this poorly
of course, and trying to consolidate power. The elections at the end of this year could
be a disaster.” END CLIP The elections were not a disaster. They were peaceful, featured unprecedented
televised debates, and a high degree of voter participation. The Islamist and Secularist parties that I
was worried about, both kind of fell apart in favor of outsiders. This dynamic of established party failure
is something we are seeing across the Democratic world. Tunisia, is kind of a normal, boring Democratic
country. Does this mean all their problems are solved? Hell no. As I pointed out in the last Tunisia video,
neither the world economy nor Tunisia’s region is helping them very much. The IMF continues to nickle and dime the world’s
most important Democratic experiment, and the US and EU are loaning small fractions
of the amounts they spend on making Libya and Syria worse. This is a disturbing pattern in Tunisian politics. The Democratic experiments tend to happen
when the world economy is being rough on this small tourism dependent country. An attempt by Tunisia’s first dictator to
open up a little foundered due to terrorism and a soft oil market back in the 1980s too. The country fell back into authoritarianism
just in time for the world economy to pick up again. It’s tremendously heartening that the Tunisians
have held on to hope through another election cycle. The people they have selected to run the place
could be worse. Ennahda, the Islamist party that was the most
powerful force in the early years of Tunisian democracy is still the biggest party in the
Parliament, but their slice is diminishing, and their politics are moderating, in the
face of a majority of fervently secular parties. I sometimes worry that Tunisia’s coastal elite
is too anti-religion and that they are risking a backlash. But I worry about that the same way I worry
about elements of the Democratic party in the United States, not the way I worry about
Egyptian dictators murdering religious people by the hundreds in the streets. On the other hand, I also find Tunisia’s new
outsider president a little scary, with his conservatism and his support for bringing
back the death penalty. But I find him a little scary the way I find
the religious fundamentalist US Vice President scary, not Libyan strong man destroying the
country scary. All in all Tunisian democracy looks kind of
normal, and kind of boring. And that’s thrilling. I hope and pray it lasts. Come back next time when we will ask whether
or not Tunisia can serve as an example for the rest of the Arab world. Thanks for watching, please subscribe, and
if you want a free essay on a completely different topic, click here to sign up for my e-mail
list.

Maurice Vega

43 Responses

  1. one thing ill note about the Tunisian Islamists is how well behaved they are. perhaps they fear acting out will garner sympathy for the old regime?

  2. Hope the rest of the region can learn from the Tunisian experience, I think it would be hard with all the propaganda efforts directed towards some of them.

  3. Reminds me of Indonesia's largest Muslim Society, the Nahdlatul Ulema with millions of members, founded in 1926 specifically to counter wave of Wahabbism, well before Indonesian independence. From what I read they are a large force that voice Islamic moderation in that country. Its like an independent, vastly secular, decidedly bigger, and socio-politically far more relaxed version of Hezbollah. They lost the Presidential seat around three years since the fall of Suharto, and they just move on. They even tweeted a Merry Christmas poster recently. Maybe you should read some and make some videos about the NU.

  4. Here is the problem with Tunisia our welfare state is going bankrupt and no politician wants to fix it because they might lose votes instead they want to increase taxes and tariffs and we already have a 35% income tax 25% vat tax and our average tariffs on imports are about 50% feels bad man

  5. I’m still worry about the gulf monarchs intervention, especially from the saudi royal mafia.. They r always terrified of any successful democracy experiment in the Arab & Islamic world that ultimately can replace them.

  6. Democracy is 51%will decide the fate of 49%

    Also democracy is basically the majority opinion ,it is not the right opinion
    Democracy will not raise your living standard
    It will just make the majority rule”apparently “
    The majority most likely islamists,white supermaciests etc…

  7. Bruuh

    I respect how you think and what videos you want to do

    But can you focus on issues that western media doesn’t focus on
    Like lebanon iraq Latin America and libya current situation

  8. Good points. Be careful when You hear the word Islamist from authoritarian governments it’s used as a scare tactic to maintain their dictatorial rule. You should do more work on this 👍🏾

  9. The reason yemen and libya are shit because they either have wealth or religious battleground for iran and ksa.

    Tunisia has neither nor is it an influencial country.

    Thats why no one give an f about it and it doesnt affect anything

  10. I agree with much of your analysis but your understanding of the Tunisian situation is at 65 % as for the new president you don't seem to know or understand much apart from the basic available stuff on the internet. This new guy is the best thing to happen to Tunisia sins the revolution because he is serious about tackling corruption which is biggest handicap of the Tunisian progress. And halt the evil of anti democracy in the Arab world. Bin Zayed bin salman Natanyahu and Sisi.

  11. I think Wahhabi Saudis aren't religious, they are just Satanic.
    They will ally with the most cruel capitalist autocratic regimes, whether they be secular or religious.
    In Libya, wahhabi militias fight for Haftar.
    They now are investing money in Rojava especially, in the oil regions with the US & israel.

    They(&UAE) now are renovating their embassy in Damascus and openly backing Assad against MB, turkey, iran,etc with russia. Assadist propoganda has now stalled all propoganda against KSA and is now portraying turkey as the enemy of Arabs.

    This after years of efforts to overthrow assad.

    And in india, they gave national award to Modi who has just passed Nuremberg laws that's gonna strip citizenship to probably as high as 30 million Muslims.

    And Xi is their best friend.

    I mean let's have a consensus here: all dirty autocrats, secular or religious, have one favourite destination – Najd

  12. Meh.

    The people are still poor, the rich are still profiting from their misery.
    At best, the people will be given a chance to choose their slavedriver.
    If they manage to leverage this pathetic power too much, back comes dictatorship.

  13. Morrocow is so underrated. Also i dont symphatize with the western saharan guys. You are just 60000 people. You cant have that much territory

  14. There is no longer any confidence between Africa and the poor countries in Europe and the West. The greedy and deceitful. They despaired of lying. Everything was stolen and they did not build any hospital there.There you go to (China)

  15. there are better examples of secular elites than bible nerd hillary. you know she can probably recite the whole damned thing from start to finish?

  16. Hoe did you fine all that? You theres only 2 minutes viss about first round on youtube. And Google do not have any more how hard you find. Any tips to find information?

  17. 1. Yemen's transition WASN'T a failure due to "having one candidate" (bullshit, there were three), the Yemenis sat and negotiated everything between each other, but what made it a failure was Saudi invasion! so dont put fault on Yemenis (cause it sure sounds like it by the way you skim over it).
    2. in Egypt Muslim Brotherhood's frontman Morsi fucked with elites and army in a way he shouldn't have. now, i understand you want to be all legalist, but then be so in case of Lybia.
    3. Lybia… ah, Lybia. you as American probably don't want to admit this, but civil war (which is different than protests) in Lybia WASN'T started due to "civil discord… and GREED" but let's be specific due to illegal american-french-italian intervention, which toppled gadaffi.

    This critic aside, i found some interesting lessons in the video about learning from tunisia's success in democracy in places who are culturally not suited for democracy (most of world isn't actually). it seems like mandatory TV debates are the way to go, together with a good law on parties whish doesnt forster big parties also. also, a law on political parties which mandates transparent, secret internal elections for any party above 200 members could be good.

  18. So I would just like to comment on the conservatism of the new president, true he's not as much of a progressive as other candidates but when he says that he is for the death penalty and against equality of heritage among men and women, he is keeping the status quo and also echoing the tunisian people's opinion on the matter. And he is more of a progressive in other instances like with homosexuality where he said that he is against the anal test because and I quote "what someone does in his private space should not concern the gouvernment, it is in the public space where it must intervene". Second these elections had one theme, corruption. The reason why kais saied was elected is because of his perceived integrity, his opponent on the other hand had a bad reputation for corruption and was taken into cusdoty during the time of the elections because of a money laundering case. The reason why he was able to make it into the second phase of the election was his charity work in rural areas wich got him the votes he needed. In the parlament on the other hand his party kalb tounes is the second largest but ofc as you mentioned no one has anything resembling a majority and so the challenge right now is forming coalitions to form a gouvernment. Many parties are reluctant to ally themselves with ennahdha because they accuse it with corruption and they have formulated some conditions for their participation in the gouvernment, ennahdha has just refused these terms and so will probably will ally with kalb tounes, and this might seriously enrage the country because of the known corruption of the leader of this party, so yeah… things can get worse, and if the economy doesn't get better soon, there is real danger for this democracy. Anyway been following your elections pretty closely and I am curious to know the people's reactions about it on your side.

  19. Why are many people asking him to make a video about their countries ?? his purpose is neither advertising for countries nor spreading some cultural knowledge. The countries mentioned in this channel are just interesting subjects to learn some geo-politics…

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