European Forum

Tunisia

Tunisia

Three years after the Arab Spring and the ousting of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali the political landscape of Tunisia has seen a shift in the broad support for the moderate Islamist party to a backing of the secular wing. This appeared in the results of the second democratic parliamentary elections on 26 October 2014 as the liberal Nidaa Tounes party has beaten the moderate Islamist Ennahda movement and became the biggest party in the country.

Also, the first free presidential elections on 23 November and 21 December 2014 reflected this shift in Tunisia’s political landscape. Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of the secularist Nidaa Tounes party, claimed victory in the second round run-off over the interim President of Tunisia, Moncef Marzouki. Essebsi has become the first directly-elected President of Tunisia.
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POLITICAL SITUATION

2014 new Constitution and interim government
Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly approved a new Constitution for the country on January 25  2014, three years after dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted by a popular uprising. It was praised as one of the Arab World’s most progressive charters, by recognising Islam as state religion, but also protecting freedom of belief and gender parity in politics and society. It also ensures political pluralism by affirming the opposition’s rights. A new government was announced at the same time, following ruling Islamist party Ennahda’s stepping down at the end of 2013. Ennahda lost its credibility and support from a large part of the population following the assassination of political leader Mohamed Brahmi in July 2013 and the political deadlock that resulted from it. A political compromise was eventually reached between the country’s ruling and opposition parties to form a non-political technocrat cabinet led by Mehdi Jomaa until the parliamentary and presidential elections in October and November 2014. It includes experts with international experience at the Finance and Foreign Affairs Ministries.

Political system after the 2014 Constitution
Although Tunisia´s new Constitution reaffirms the pre-existing Republican system, in which the executive power is held by the President for five years with the help of the Prime Minister, it modified the legislative power. Until January 2014, the Parliament was bicameral, composed of a Chamber of Deputies and a Chamber of Advisors. Today, it is composed of a sole Chamber, the Assembly of the Representatives of the People. The leader of the majority party or coalition after elections is designated by the President as prime minister.  One of the great improvements in the 2014 Constitution is the creation of a Constitutional Court, which restricts the legislative power and prevents laws that would go against rights and freedoms from being ratified.  Tunisia is administratively divided in 24 governorates, headed by governors who are appointed by the President.  The country enjoys competitive elections thanks to lively partisan life which is constitutionally guaranteed by article 35.

Gender representation

The 2014 Tunisian Constitution is, in the Arab and Muslim world, the basic law that offers the most guarantees for women's rights. Its article 46  guarantees “equality of opportunities between women and men to have access to all levels of responsibility and in all fields. The state seeks to achieve equal representation for women and men in elected councils” It guarantees “women´s representation in elected bodies” as well as “women´s accrued rights” and right to work. It represents a great improvement since the last gender equity bill that had been passed on 11 April 2011. It declared that men and women should feature in equal numbers as candidates on the electoral list. Close to 4,000 women ran for the first time for one of the 217 seats in the Constituent Assembly elections in October 2011. In spite of the list and the recent gender equity law, women’s actual representation in the the NCA does not reflect their proportion of the national population. Fifty-seven seats were allocated to women in the NCA which equals 26.3%. Women headed only 7% of more than 1,500 candidate lists and only one woman was given the chance to lead a political party (Maya Jribi-PDP Party). The election resulted in a majority vote for the Ennahda party that has pledged to uphold women’s rights. Despite the role women played during the protests, the transitional government only has two female ministers.

Tunisian revolution
The current political situation in Tunisia is the result of the popular unrest that erupted  in the first half of 2011 after a young man set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid on 17 December 2010. The frustration of the man concerning the high unemployment rate, living conditions, the economic situation and annoyance with the ruling elite was shared by many Tunisians. Demonstrations occurred around the country for weeks and resulted in the ouster of President Ben Ali on 14 January 2011. Fouad Mebezaa, the speaker of the Tunisian parliament, was sworn in as the country's interim president on January 15th. On the 17th of January a new government was formed by Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi. A day later three ministers stepped down denouncing the new administration as a betrayal, since the government included several ministers from the former ruling party, the RCD. It is said that over 338 people were killed during the Tunisian uprising.


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ELECTIONS

 

Presidential elections 2014
Presidential elections were held on 23 November 2014. According to official results, Beji Caid Essebsi, founder of the Nidaa Tounes party, won this first round of voting by receiving 39.46 per cent of the votes. However, as Essebsi ran short of the required overall majority of 50 per cent of the votes, a second round of voting was required.

On 21 December the second round of voting was held.  Official results, announced on 22 December, showed that the frontrunner Beji Caid Essebsi won the second round, and therefore Tunisia’s first free presidential elections, with 55.68 per cent of the votes. His main rival, Moncef Marzouki, became second with 44.32 per cent of the votes. On 31 December Essebsi was inaugurated officially as the President of Tunisia.

Both Essebsi and Marzouki were trying to convince Tunisian voters that these presidential elections were the chance to break with the old regime. However, both candidates were accusing their opponent of returning to the old regime that will set off the country’s revolution. Essebsi stirred the competition up by stating that only he could defend Tunisia against the threat of extremism and not Marzouki. Essebsi stated that “the people who voted for Marzouki were the Islamists…that is to say Ennahda members…but also jihadist Salafists.” These comments of Essebsi resulted in large protests in southern Tunisian cities – who largely voted for Marzouki – and calling Essebsi’s comments insulting and divisive. As a response, Al-Bakoush, secretary-general of Essebsi’s political party, accused Marzouki's Congress for the Republic Party of "attempting to divide the country between the north and the south" and warned of an "unprecedented polarisation" in Tunisia's southern cities. The head of the EU observer mission, Annemie Neyts-Uytterbroeck, stated that the official results of the first round of Tunisia’s presidential elections were “pluralist and transparent.” She also said that “the exercise of freedom of expression and assembly was guaranteed.”

Shortly after the announcement of the official results, demonstrations and small riots emerged in several southern towns in Tunisia in protest against Essebsi. The protestors argued that these presidential elections have resulted in the return of an old guard of Ben Ali’s era, since Essebsi was a former Ben Ali official for five decades. These critics see the appointment of Essebsi as the Tunisian President as a setback to democracy in Tunisia that resulted from the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. However, many others support the newly elected president and they hope that Essebsi will contribute to finalizing Tunisia’s road to democracy. The president himself commented that he is “committed to be president of all Tunisian men and women without exclusion” and that “there is no future without consensus among all parties and social movements.” Also U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Essebsi on his victory, but also Tunisia as a whole in achieving democratization this far: “Tunisia has provided a shining example to the region and the world of what can be achieved through dedication to democracy, consensus, and an inclusive political process.”

Official election results

Candidates

Parties

First round

Second round

Votes

%

Votes

%

Beji Caid Essebsi

Nidaa Tounes

1,289,384

39.46%

1,731,529

55.68%

Moncef Marzouki

Congress for the Republic

1,092,418

33.43%

1,092,418

44.32%

Hamma Hammami

Popular Front

255,529

7.82%

 

 

Hechmi Hamdi

Current of Love

187,923

5.75%

 

 

Slim Riahi

Free Patriotic Union

181,407

5.55%

 

 

Kamel Morjane

National Destourian Initiative

41,614

1.27%

 

 

Ahmed Nejib Chebbi

Republican Party

34,025

1.04%

 

 

Others

 

185,269

5.60%

 

 



Parliamentary elections 2014

On 26 October 2014 parliamentary elections were held in Tunisia, which established a 217-seat Assembly of the Representatives of the People as adopted by the new constitution. In total, 69% of the Tunisian population turned up for voting. The biggest change as a result of these elections for the Tunisian parliament is that the Nidaa Tounes party, a secular party, has taken the lead in parliament with 85 seats, which is 39% of the votes. Thus, beating the previous dominating party, the Ennahda Movement. The Ennahda party won 69 seats, losing 16 seats compared to 2011, and hereby running as a close second. who won 69 seats or 32% of the votes. This gives the Nidaa Tounes party the right to name a prime minister and form a coalition government.

About 13,000 candidated competed for a seat in the 217-strong National Assembly of Tunisia. All candidates pledged to focus on crippling poverty and unemployment, trying to make an end to Tunisia’s social unrest over the weak economy, violence blamed on Islamists, and attacks by militant groups.

The former coalition parties and the Popular Petition have received the biggest losses. The Congress for the Republic went from 29 to 4 seats, the Popular Petition went from 26 to 2, and the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties (FDTL) lost all seats. These former coalition parties have been punished for their poor results during their  The losses for both Ennahda and the central left-wing parties are due to the political crisis resulting from the murder on two secular politicians and the poor results of the stagnating economic conditions, unemployment and deteriorating safety conditions in the country. However, smaller parties, such as the Free Patriotic Union, the Popular Front, and the Afek Tounes party, emerged noticeably. The Free Patriotic Union won 15 seats and now have 16 seats in parliament, the Popular Front went from 4 to 15 seats, and the Afek Tounes party went from 3 to 8 seats.

On 23 January 2015 Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid proposed a new minority government that excludes most of the major parties, such as Islamist and leftist parties. The Nidaa Tounes party originally promised to form a broad government coalition and it had not ruled out forming a coalition with the Ennahda Movement. However, the 24 new ministers presented appeared to come from only two parties that had not enough seats to survive a no-confidence voting. The proposed cabinet included ten ministers from Nidaa Tounes and three from the Free Patriotic Union Party. On 26 January 2015, Essid announced that new negotiations have started over his cabinet after most political parties said they would oppose his initial choice of ministers in a parliamentary vote. Also, rejection by parliament would mean President Essebsi would have to appoint a new premier to try to form another cabinet.

The leader of Ennahda, Lotfi Zitoun, has accepted this result and congratulated the winner. The result was hailed internationally for its democratic viability as the only one of the major Arab Spring uprisings that is not convulsed by instability and turmoil. President Barack Obama declared the result as a “milestone” since the parliamentary elections in Tunisia were free, fair and non-violent. Secretary of State, John Kerry, said it was an example of “why Tunisia remains a beacon of hope, not only to the Tunisian people, but to the region and the world.”

 

Official election results

Party

Votes

Seats

Nidaa Tounes

1,279,941

86

Ennahda Movement

947,014

69

Free Patriotic Union

140,873

16

Popular Front

124,046

15

Afek Tounes

102,915

8

Other parties*

 

23

* Congress for the Republic

69,794

4

* Popular Petition

40,826

2


National Constituent Assembly elections 2011

On 23 October 2011 Tunisia held free elections for the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) for the first time in history. The task of the 217-seat NCA was to write a new constitution for the country and to form an interim government. The two most important issues in the campaign were the questions of the place of religion within the new constitution and how to deal with the remaining old RCD regime representatives. On 21 November 2011 a coalition of Ennahda, CPR and FDTL/Ettakotal was formed holding a majority of 138 seats in the assembly. They agreed to share the three highest posts in the Assembly. Therefore Ettakotal/FDTL leader Mustapha Ben Jaafar was elected President of the Assembly and Meherzia Labidi (Ennahda) and Larbi Abid (CPR) were elected vice presidents. The Assembly also performed normal parliamentary functions in that year, such as government oversight and the drafting of new legislation.

Previous political landscape

Before the popular uprising and Tunisia’s legislative elections of 2011, the country underwent a long period of authoritarian rule. The bicameral legislative authority was controlled by former President Ben Ali’s political party the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD). Although the role of political parties used to be defined by the Constitution as "political parties help to educate citizens so as to organise their participation in political life, only 20% of the Chamber of Deputies was granted to opposition parties. Tailor-made laws prevented the candidates from some of the stronger opposition parties from running and severe constraints on freedoms of expression, the press, and assembly deprived challengers from making their case to the public. It was therefore inevitable that Ben Ali and his party the RCD won both elections with a majority of the votes.


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LEFT-WING PARTIES

Forum Démocratique pour le Travail et les Libertés (FDTL) / Ettakatol
(Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties)
Leader: Dr Mustapha Ben Jaafar
Full member in the Socialist International

Established in 1994, just a month before the country’s legislative elections, the FDTL is a centre-left secularist party. Its establishment was the result of a call by 200 democrats, academics and defenders of human rights who in 1993 called for the unification of democratic forces. The party that was established by its current Secretary-General Mustapha Ben Jafar was only legalised in 2002. However, it failed to obtain government positions or seats in the parliament in the 2004 elections.

In the Constituent Assembly elections in October 2011 FDTL won 20 seats and took part in the coalition that consists of Ennahda and the CPR. Its stated core values are transparency and openness. Its leader Ben Jafar was elected President of the Constituent Assembly in November 2011. During the parliamentary elections in 2014, the FDTL lost all seats. However, it is still member of the Socialist International and observer by the Party of European Socialists.


Congrès Pour la République (CPR) (Rally for the Republic Party)
Chairman: Dr. Moncef Marzouki

The CPR is a centre-left secular political party which was established by Moncef Marzouki in 2001. As the party was banned in 2002, Marzouki moved to France and ran the party from there. The CPR’s main objectives include transparent and free elections, independence of state institutions and the judiciary, to guarantee public liberties and defend human rights and to affirm the Arab Muslim identity within the framework of respect for universal humanitarian values as they are stipulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The party has been labelled Islamist, but rejects the label and after the elections in October 2011 is seen as a counterweight to the moderate Islamist party which became the country's dominant political force in the elections.

The CPR won 29 seats in the 2011 NCA elections, becoming second after the Ennahda.
Party leader Marzouki was elected interim President of Tunisa by the Constituent Assembly and the CPR formed a coalition with Ennahda and the social-democratic Ettakatol/FDTL. Together they hold 138 seats in the Asssembly. During the parliamentary elections in 2014, the party lost significantly and went from 29 to 4 seats.


Social Democratic Path (a.k.a. Al-Massar)
Leader: Ahmed Ibrahim

The Social Democratic Path was created on April 1st 2012 as a result of the merger of the Ettajdid movement, the Tunisian Labour Party and the Democratic Modernist Pole. The former leader of Ettajdid movement is its current leader. It holds 7 seats in the current NCA.  Ettajdid, or “Movement of Renewal” was formed in 1993, replacing the Tunisian Communist Party (PCT)  which had abandoned communism and defined itself as centre-left.

After the fall of Ben Ali the leader of the Ettajdid, Ahmed Ibrahim, had gained the post of Minister of Higher Education by the then Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi until 7 March 2011. The Party sees a strict division between state and religion as a fundamental basis for the new constitution and rejects cooperation with Islamist parties.

The party formed a coalition with the Union for Tunisia until 2014. During the parliamentary elections in 2014, the party won no seats, but it is still politically active.


Mouvement des Démocrates Socialistes (Movement of Social Democrats)
Secretary-general: Ismail Boulahya

The party was founded in 1978 by Ahmed Mestiri and associates, liberal dissidents from the then ruling Parti Socialiste Destourian (PSD), the predecessor of the RCD. He was replaced by Mohamed Mouadda. After some internal strive over the leadership of the party Ismail Boulahya, the last founding member of the party still in function officially became the leader in 2002.

The party successfully participated in the 2004 legislative elections, obtaining 14 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, making it the largest (opposition) party in the Chamber under the domination of the RCD. The number of seats grew to 16 seats at the 2009 election. The Movement of Social-Democrats offers almost the same program as the RCD, apart from being more Arab nationalist and socialist. The party obtained 2 seats in the latest NCA elections in October 2011 elections but of the two deputies, one joined Ennahda in 2013 and the other one joined the Social Democratic Path in 2014.

During the parliamentary elections in 2014, the Social Democrats did not win a seat.


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PARTIES IN PARLIAMENT

Nidaa Tounes (Call for Tunisia)
Leader : -

Nidaa Tounes was created in June 2012 under the impetus of Beji Caid el Sebsi, a former Tunisian ambassador close to Habib Bourgiba and member of Former President Ben Ali´s government. It highlights several objectives : the introduction of a Constituent Assembly that will draft a solid Constitution, a plan to save the national economy based on national consensus, a process of transitional justice aiming at finalising Tunisia´s post-Ben Ali transition, safeguarding individual freedoms and ensuring the neutrality of mosques. During the launch of the party on 16 June 2012, el Sebsi asked all Tunisians to unite in favour of transition. Nonetheless, its creation has led to a bipolarisation of party politics in the country, by attracting all opponents to Ennahda.

During the parliamentary elections in 2014, the party won significantly and became the biggest party with 86 seats.


Ennahda Movement, Renaissance Party, Hizb al-Nahda
Leader: Rached Al-Ghannouchi
Secretary General: Ali Laarayedh

Initially established as Mouvement de la Tendance Islamique (MTI) in 1981. The party is theoretically shaped by the Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood and its key intellectual in the 1950s and 60s Sayyid Qutb. The party began as a rather radical one, but started to be described as moderate Islamist in the 1980s and changed it’s name to the current one in 1988 after Ben Ali’s National Pact that sought to separate religion from politics. They advocate democracy and a Tunisian form of Islamism also described as political pluralism.

In elections held in 1989, Ennahda came in second place to the RCD. Shortly afterwards, Ennahda was banned, and its leader Rachid Ghannouchi fled the country for the UK as he and other Ennahda members were prosecuted for “membership in an illegal organization.” After the collapse of the Ben Ali regime the Tunisian interim government granted the group permission to form a political party. The Ennahda party became the biggest and best organised party and won 89 seats in the 2011 Constituent Assembly elections.

Ennahda sees itself as an advocate of Islamic democracy, like Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party. The party can be seen as a centre-right party that is sympathetic towards economic liberalism. Ennahda’s leadership has stressed that it supports equal rights for men and women, although only two women are at first position for the NCA election. Nevertheless, secularists remain wary of Ennahda, whose party’s strongest support comes from Tunisia’s rural interior

The Ennahda Movement stepped down in January 2014 since the neutral interim government was established to make the final draft of a constitution, followed by early elections based on this new constitution. During the parliamentary elections in 2014, the party became second after the Nidaa Tounes party, losing almost half of its seats. The party has now 69 seats in parliament.


Free Patriotic Union, Union Patriotique Libre (UPL)
Leader: Slim Riahi

In May 2011 the party was established by the British-Tunisian Petroleum entrepreneur, Slim Riahi, who returned from London after the Tunisian revolution in January 2011. The party proposes  a free market economy and a modern society while rejecting Islamism. The UPL has mainly been noted for its expensive and excessive electoral campaign. As opposed to most other parties that rely on the voluntary commitment of their members, the Free Patriotic Union can afford to pay its candidates and campaigners. This has resulted in an accusation against the party of "buying" candidates and supporters. During the parliamentary elections in 2011, the party received only 1.26% of the votes. On 7 March 2013, it was announced that seven minor parties joined forces with the UPL in order to create a new "centrist party of socialist-liberal orientation." During the parliamentary elections in 2014, the party came in third. The party now has 16 seats in parliament.


Popular Front, al-Jahba (Popular Front for the realization of the objectives of the revolution)Spokesperson: Hamma Hammami

The Popular Front was formed in October 2012. It is a leftist political and electoral alliance in Tunisia. The party consists of nine political parties. It brings mainly left wing Tunisian parties together, including the Democratic Patriots’ Movement, the Workers’ Party, Green Tunisia, the Movement of Socialist Democrats, the Tunisian Ba’ath Movement, the Party of the Democratic Arab Vanguard, two different parties of the Iraqi branch of Ba’ath Party, and other progressive parties. After the revolution leftist parties decided to form the Popular Front in order to better consolidate the previously divided Tunisian left wing so as to be able to compete more effectively in the parliamentary elections in 2014. During the parliamentary elections in 2014, the Popular Front became fourth and got 15 seats. 


Afek Tounes
Leader: Yassine Brahim

The party was formed after the revolution and grew famous thanks to its political ads and the perceived modernity of its doctrines. The party could be ideologically classified in the spectrum of centre to liberal and they advocate secularism and emphasize the urge to strengthen the civil liberties while most Tunisians seem to be overwhelmed by other causes related to corruption, unemployment and security. They are being accused to have links to the former dominant party the RCD, however this has been denied by the party itself. Many Tunisians claim that this party is targeted to the upper and wealthy classes and is frequently called bourgeois. Since its establishment, the party has been prone to systematic sabotage; its meetings were disrupted frequently during the last months with the infamous French word ‘dégage’ which means `leave`. They gained 4 seats in the NCA elections in 2011. Afek Tounes merged on 9 April 2012 with several other minor parties among which the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) – which was dissolved - to form the Republican Party. This new party had 11 seats in the NCA. In August 2013 the current leader, Yassine Brahim, and other former party members left the Republican Party to revive Afek Tounes. During the parliamentary elections in 2014 Afek Tounes won 8 seats.


Courant de l'amour, Current of Love (Popular Petition)
Leader: Mohamed Hechmi Hamdi

The People's Petition for Freedom, Justice and Development party, short Popular Petition or Aridha Chaabia party, and nowadays called the Current of Love, was created after the Tunisian Revolution by the political writer and media entrepreneur, Mohamed Hechmi Hamdi on March 17. 2011. The People's Petition party included three broad popular ideas during  the campaign ahead of the NCA elections in 2011: the formation of a democratic constitution, the adoption of a system of free health care and the dispensation of grants to the unemployed. Hamdi was alleged to have close ties with the ousted President Ben Ali, but claimed those allegations to be false. To the surprise of everyone the party obtained 25 seats in the National assembly during the elections, but did not manage to form a cooperation within a coalition. During the parliamentary elections in 2014, the party has received one of the biggest losses. It went from 26 to 2 seats.


Several parties have emerged out of Ben Ali’s Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party. These parties include al-Waten (The Nation), founded by RCD members who had previously served as Minister of Trade and Tourism and Minister of the Interior; al-Moubedra (The Initiative); the Justice and Liberty party; and The Independence for Liberty party.


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OTHER PARTIES IN PARLIAMENT

During the parliamentary elections in 2014, several parties received no more than 1 seat, varying from liberal to socialist parties. The following parties received 1 seat: Republican Party, Democratic Alliance, Farmers’ Voice Party, Movement of Socialist Democrats and the National Front for Salvation. This was especially a loss for the Republican Party that went from 24 seats to 1 seat in parliament. 


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BIOGRAPHIES

Beji Caid Essebsi
President of Tunisia

president_tunesi_.jpgBeji Caid Essebsi was born on 29 November 1926 in Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia. He is a great-grandson of Ismail Caïd Essebsi, who was raised with the ruling family in the beginning of the 19th century and later became an important member within the government. Essebsi studied law in Paris and became a lawyer in 1952. He was a follower of Tunisia's post-independence leader Habib Bourguiba. He then joined Bourguiba as an adviser following the country's independence from France in 1956. From 1957 to 1971, he held various functions, such as Interior Minister from 1965 to 1969 and as Ambassador in Paris. In April 1981, he came back to the government under Mohamed Mzali as Minister of Foreign Affairs, serving until September 1986. From 1990 to 1991, he was the President of the Chamber of Deputies. In the aftermath of the Tunisian Revolution in 2011, Essebsi was appointed as new Prime Minister. After the elections in 2011, when the new Interim President, Moncef Marzouki, was appointed, Essebsi was replaced as Prime Minister. He then founded the secular Nidaa Tounes party, which won the parliamentary elections in 2014. He was also the party’s candidate in Tunisia’s first free presidential elections in 2014. In December 2014, in the second round of voting, official results showed that Essebsi won the presidential race. On 31 December 2014, Essebsi was sworn in as the first free elected President of Tunisia.


Moncef Marzouki
Former Interim President of Tunisia
Founder of the Congress for the Republic (CPR)

moncef_marzouki2.jpgMoncef Marzouki (1945) studied medicine in France. He was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful resistance and travelled to South Africa tot study its transition from Apartheid. After he returned to France he joined the Tunisian League of Human Rights and became an active human rights campaigner. He is widely respected for his opposition to former president Ben Ali which led to several arrests during his lifetime. In 2001 he founded the Congress for the Republic, which was banned in 2002. Still, Marzouki moved to France and continued running it. He only returned home after Mr Ben Ali was toppled.

Members of the Constituent Assembly, the interim parliament, voted to elect Mr Marzouki as president on 12 December 2011, the second most powerful role after the prime minister. He was elected as part of a power-sharing deal between the moderate Islamist Ennahda party and its two smaller secularist coalition partners, Ettakatol and Marzouki's Congress for the Republic. The deal gives the president limited powers. He sets Tunisia's foreign policy in consultation with the prime minister. He is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces but can only appoint or fire senior officers in consultation with the prime minister.

During Tunisia’s first free presidential elections, Marzouki was defeated by Beji Caid Essebsi.


Rached Ghannouchi
Leader Ennahda

Rached Kheriji, known as Rached Ghannouchi (1941) is one of the most prominent politicians in Tunisia as he is the leader of the second largest party in Tunisia. He co-founded the Ennahda Movement and is seen as its intellectual leader.

Ghannouchi graduated from Zaytuna University in Tunis in 1962 before he attended Cairo University (Egypt) to study agriculture. After has was expelled from Egypt due to a row between former presidents Bourguiba and Abdel Nasser, Ghannouchi went to University of Damascus (Syria) where he majored in philosophy, and graduated in 1968. Ghannouchi started forming his political orientations as a university student. Despite the fact that he initially joined a socialist party, his views gradually tended towards religious ideology. Ghannouchi then attended the University of Paris, Sorbonne. After studying there for a year, he returned to Tunisia and founded an organization to initiate reforms in the country. Based on his Islamic convinctions, he among other, initiated the Islamic Tendency Movement in 1981 to fight political pluralism and call for economic reconstruction.

Ghannouchi along with his followers was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 1981 where he was tortured. Many Tunisians of the whole political spectrum protested against their torture. Ghannouchi was released in 1984. After being sent back to prison in 1987 with a life sentence, he was released again in 1988. Eventually Ghannouchi was exiled to Algeria, and from there he moved to England in 1991, where he lived for over twenty years. During his exile, Ghannouchi was a tireless critic of the political regime in Tunisia. On 30 January 2011 Ghannouchi returned to Tunis for the first time in two decades.

His party the Ennahda, won 89 of the 217 seats in the Constituent Assembly's elections in October 2011, the second party gaining at a much lower rate of 29 seats. During the parliamentary elections in 2014, Ennahda almost lost half ot its seats and now claims 69 seats in parliament.


Zine el Abidine Ben Ali
Former President

Zine el Abidine Ben Ali (1936), was president of Tunisia from 7 November 1987 until 14 January 2011. He replaced the previous president, Habib Bourguiba, in a bloodless coup after doctors declared Bourguiba unfit for presidency by reason of senility. After continuing protests and violence that occurred during protests that started in December 2010 Ben Ali stated he would not run for President again in 2014. When mass rallies continued Ben Ali was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia together with his wife Leila Trabelsi and three children on 14 January 2011.

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Flag of Tunisia Tunisia

Last update: 29 January 2015
Author: -

Population: 10,982,754 (2014 est.)
Prime Minister: -
President: Beji Caid Essebsi
Governmental type: Republic
Ruling Coalition: -
Last Elections: Presidential, November 23 and December 21, 2014
Next Election: -
Sister Parties: Forum Démocratique pour le Travail et les Libertés (FDTL) (full member)

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