Political developments in Tunisia: appointment of Hichem Mechichi as the new PM-designate

Mon 27 Jul 2020

Political developments in Tunisia: appointment of Hichem Mechichi as the new PM-designate

Ensuing the resignation of Elyes Fakhfakh, Tunisia's President Kais Saied has appointed Hichem Mechichi as the country's new prime minister-designate. Hichem Mechichi, acting Minister of Interior, has up to a month to form a government capable of winning a confidence vote in parliament by a simple majority. Otherwise, the President will dissolve parliament and call for a new election.

Consultations on "a consensual personality"
Political scientist Abdelatif Hanachi claims that the appointment of Mechichi, independent, marks the return of technocrats to government. Namely, it underlines the will of President Kais Saied to highlight the competence of the Tunisian administration and institutional loyalty to the state.

During the consultations between parties/parliamentary blocs and the President on "a consensual personality" to form the government, Mechichi was not among the proposed candidates. Khayam Turki, Deputy Secretary-General of the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties (Ettakatol) and Fadhel Abdelkefi, former Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation, were agreed-upon with the majority in the parliament. Ennahdha movement holding 54 seats and Qalb Tounes party with 27 seats thus proposed these two candidates for Prime Minister.

However, the President has chosen Mechichi, who previously worked as his advisor. Saied justified his choice by saying the appointment of Hichem Mechichi embraces the parties that voted for him as interior minister in the outgoing government of Fakhfakh, i.e. Ennahdha, the Democratic Current, the Echaab movement and Taya Tounes. Most of these parties have welcomed the choice for Mechichi, but none of them has voiced strong support yet.

Economic decline
Analysts expect the Tunisian economy to shrink by 6.5% this year and forecast a deficit equivalent to 7% of gross domestic product. The new government will thus have to face severe economic and societal challenges. Taking into account that the newly appointed Prime Minister has no economic background, it remains to be seen how he will deal with the revival of the economy and improvement of living standard.

Sources: TAP 1, TAP 2, TAP 3, Reuters, Aljazeera
Photo: Wikimedia Commons