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Tunisia, “Revolutionary Conservative” Kaïs Saïed heads First Round: two Populists to battle it out.

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Kais Saïd ou le choix de la génération

Robocop Heads Tunisian Presidential First Round.

Presidential election results were seen as a shock in the Tunisian media.

Here

Tunisia election: Outsider in lead stuns after most votes counted.

Al Jazeera.

With two-third votes in presidential race counted, conservative constitutional law professor Kais Saied takes the lead.

Law professor and political outsider Kais Saied is leading Tunisia‘s presidential polls with two-thirds of the votes counted, the electoral commission said, after the country’s second free vote for head of state since the 2011 Arab Spring.

Saied was on 18.9 percent on Monday night, ahead of imprisoned media magnate Nabil Karoui, who was on 15.5 percent, according to the electoral commission, ISIE.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, a presidential hopeful whose popularity has been tarnished by a sluggish economy and the rising cost of living, could well turn out to be the election’s biggest loser.

ISIE figures showed him in fifth place with 7.4 percent of the vote, trailing both Ennahdha party candidate Abdelfattah Mourou (moderate’ islamists, once a favourite of Jeremy Corbyn’s right-hand man, Seumas Milne)  and former defence minister Abdelkarim Zbidi.

France 24 noted,

In a sign of voter apathy, especially among the young, turnout was reported by the elections commission (ISIE) to be 45 percent, down from 64 percent recorded in a first round in 2014.

Reports indicate that  Kaïs Saïed’s electoral base is the educated youth, the “les 20-30 ans éduqués.”

Nicknamed, “robocop”, this comes from his unflagging diction, his use of a rigorous literary Arabic (when many candidates speak in Tunisian forms), his analysis essentially based on the country’s constitutional problems, his conservative positions on social issues. Others have made the connection with “Robespierre”, a ”  Robespierre without guillotine, but if the situation was that of two centuries ago, he would have used it,” an observer noted. He has been a favourite in the polls for many months.

Le Point.

The  analysis by Syrine Ben Youssef on Huffington Post Maghreb has a different angle on the age cohort.

Kais Saïd ou le choix de la génération Z

37 % des électeurs de Kais Saïd auraient entre 18 et 25 ans

37% of the voters for Kais Saïd  are said to be between 18 and 25 years old.

Syrine Ben Youssef summarises some reasons for this result.

They call them ‘Generation Z’ who have grown up since the Tunisian Spring, in contrast to ‘Generation Y who made the revolution.

This is the digital generation, “digital natives” ultra-connected, born with internet, mobile phones, and  social networks.

Saïd is seen as “honest, independent, intellectual” and, above all, he conveyed this image in short broadcasts which can be quickly absorbed and gave an image of furthering a change from the old political set up, the style of lengthy speeches and arguments. He, the Huffington Post journalist, argues,, managed to give an accessible image and a message of supporting, “ideas of ​​direct popular participation” and backing for “universal suffrage”, that is, not the rule of a squabbling political class.

Generation Z, for its part, shows us, through this election in 2019, that it needs change and that it thinks differently. Kais Saïd advocates  a direct democracy where the intermediaries between the power and the people would be reduced. A democracy in the image of a horizontal company or even a liberated firm having little or no level of separation between employees and the executive. Kais Saïd targets, perhaps very intentionally or possibly accidentally, Generation Z.

In case anybody should think this audience makes Saïed a liberal, think again.

He is in favour of the death penalty, he thinks homosexuality is promoted by ‘foreign’ forces’ (l’homosexualité, ou plutôt son expression publique, est encouragée par des parties étrangères qui les financent »)  which should be kept Private, and he thinks that inheritance laws should give priority to males (as in most interpretations of Islamic ‘law’). More here.

It looks like a standoff between two “populists”, the one, constitutional and conservative, who attacks “elites”, the other Nabil Karoui, referred to as a Tunisian Berlusconi with dodgy money – currently in Gaol awaiting trial for this – who wants to “Libérer l’économie”, free the economy.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 17, 2019 at 12:27 pm

7th Anniversary of Tunisian Uprising Marked by Protests.

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https://images.scribblelive.com/2018/1/14/597583a4-b2a8-4a72-98d4-657a6d403471_800.jpg

Front Populaire on the March in Tunisia Today.

Tunisia protests mark seven years since Arab Spring uprising

France 24.

Tunisia, shaken by days of nationwide unrest over price hikes, is marking seven years on Sunday since the North African nation drove out its long-time autocratic ruler.

Tunisians are calling for peaceful protests on the anniversary to tell the country’s new leaders that they have failed to fix problems that stirred the revolution.

President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled into exile on Jan. 14, 2011, transforming the country into a budding democracy that inspired the Arab Spring – then defied it by being the only country to keep its transition peaceful.

Now, protesters are driving home the message that they believe that six governments in power since then have crushed hopes of social and economic justice, and left them feeling betrayed.

Citizen’s Against the Right-Wing Islamist Party.

On this 7th Anniversary the trade union, L’UGTT, has called for a march in the centre of Tunis. They will be joined by the left wing Tunisian alliance, the Front Populaire (FP) has described government measures taken in response to these protests, which include a minimum wage for the poorest, and universal heath care,  as a “masquerade”. They do not satisfy the needs of the people. The FP has called for continuing demonstrations against the Finance law – austerity.

Al Jazeera has just published an interview with people from Fech Nestannew.

Al Jazeera spoke to Tunis-based protest organiser Warda Atig, 25, about how the Fech Nestannew movement came about, its demands, and whether the Tunisian government may revise its economic policies.

Al Jazeera: What is the idea behind Fech Nestannew?

Warda Atig: Fech Nestannew is a movement created by Tunisian youth after the government’s finance act of 2018 came into effect. Following this act, the prices went up and the state stopped recruiting for public sector jobs.

That’s why we decided to create this movement, in order to push the government to cancel this financial measure.

Al Jazeera: How did your protests begin and when?

Atig: When we first heard about this law, in November and December of last year, several youth factions from the different progressive political parties organised discussions [about] what the law was and what the impact of the law would be on society.

We were waiting for the government to make the law official and we chose the date of our first action to be January 3. The date is very symbolic because, on January 3, 1984, there was the Intifada al-Khubez (bread uprising) in Tunisia [over an increase in the price of bread].

On January 3, we made a declaration in front of the municipal theatre [on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in downtown Tunis] and we distributed pamphlets with our demands. We were about 50 activists.

Al Jazeera: What are those demands?

Atig: We want the government to end the increase in prices, cancel the moratorium on recruiting in the public sector, provide security and healthcare, end privatisation and put forward a national strategy to counter corruption.

These demands [are in response to] decisions taken by the government … [and] they are within the context of the finance act of 2018. So we are asking [the government] to cancel this act.

If they don’t cancel it, they will privatise national companies, they will not fight corruption, they will continue to increase prices. We are explaining to people that we have to say no to this act.

Al Jazeera: Protests have taken place across Tunisia. How did these different regions get involved in your movement and do you have a coordinated strategy?

Atig: First, we created a group on Facebook. Then, there were many reactions from people in other regions. People started to ask themselves, “What are we waiting for?”

People from student unions and other young people who were very active regionally also got involved.

It started here (Tunis) with different groups, including student unions and groups of unemployed graduates. Everyone here helped spread this campaign … and what happened in Tunis happened in all the other regions.

This isn’t only [a movement] for Tunis; it’s for all of Tunisia.

More via above link.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 14, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Third Night of Riots in Tunisia: Front Populaire Backs Peaceful Protests and Denounces Violence.

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Fech Nestanew: Young Tunisians in latest protests against Austerity.

Le Monde reports:

Tunisia is governed by a working arrangement between a President Beji Caid Essebsi, his republican centre Nidaa Tounes party and the rightwing Islamist Ennahda party.

Agence France Presse reports,

200 arrested, dozens hurt in Tunisia unrest.

More than 200 people have been arrested and dozens of police hurt during clashes in Tunisia, the interior ministry said Wednesday, as anger over austerity measures spilt over into unrest.

The North African country has been hailed for its relatively smooth democratic transition since a 2011 revolt that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings, but seven years after the revolution, tensions over economic grievances are high.

Tunisia has seen rising anger over hikes in value-added tax and social contributions after a tough new budget was applied at the start of the year.

Interior ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani told local radio that 49 police officers were wounded during a second night of clashes across the country Tuesday to Wednesday and that 206 “troublemakers” were arrested.

Properties were damaged, he said, including a branch of the Carrefour supermarket chain in a suburb of Tunis that was looted.

After a calm day on Wednesday, residents said demonstrators in the evening took to the streets of Tebourba, a town west of the capital Tunis where a man in his 40s died in unrest Monday night.

On a visit to a nearby town, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed condemned acts of “vandalism” that “serve the interests of corrupt networks to weaken the state”, pointing the finger at a leftist party that called for protests.

Fresh clashes broke out Wednesday night in the northern town of Siliana, where youths threw stones and molotov cocktails at security forces. Police responded with tear gas, an AFP correspondent said.

There were similar scenes in Kasserine, a town in Tunisia’s neglected central region, with protesters burning tires to block roads and some throwing stones at police.

The army has been deployed around banks, post offices and other government buildings in the country’s main cities, the defence ministry said.

There have been no figures given for the number of protesters injured in the clashes.

On Tuesday night, hundreds of young people took to the streets of Tebourba for the funeral of the man who died.

In the central town of Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the protests that sparked the 2011 uprisings, youths blocked roads and hurled stones, and the police retaliated with tear gas, an AFP reporter said.

The recent unrest started with peaceful protests against the austerity measures last week, but escalated into clashes with police in the night of Monday to Tuesday.

On the back of the protests which Libération describes as the result of a general state of anger (un «ras-le-bol généralisé») at the country’s conditions, racist Islamist elements have been involved (Guardian)

Among the hundreds arrested on Tuesday were two radical Islamists who had helped storm a police station in Nefza town, the interior ministry spokesman said. In Tunis, a crowd stormed a Carrefour market.

On Tuesday, petrol bombs were thrown at a Jewish school on the southern tourist island of Djerba, home to an ancient Jewish community.

Front Populaire.

The left wing alliance, the Front Populaire, (15 MPs out of 217) has stood by the protests and called for street demonstrations. Le Front populaire appelle à la mobilisation de la rue pour le retrait de la loi de Finances 2018.

The leader of the left wing Front Populaire Hamma Hammami (English link) criticised the government and its response to the protests while making it clear that they do not support the violence of “milices criminelles” who are exploiting the unrest.

In response to statements by Youssef Chahed, Head of Tunisia’s present government, which accuse them of encouraging the “troubles”  he stated yesterday that one should not confuse peaceful mass movements, which his alliance backs, and acts of vandalism and violence carried out by criminal organisations. (“la confusion entre les mouvements militants pacifiques que nous appuyons et les actes de vandalisme et de violence que font des milices criminelles” Huffington Post).

They have called for an independent inquirty in the repression and violence.

After asking whether these groups which had been involved in pillaging and exacerbating tensions  had a relation with the mafias and other corrupt forces linked to the government Hammami stated that the Front Populaire would continue to support protests against the economic policies of the state.

Manifestez en étant unis et autour d’un slogan claire qui est la suppression de la hausse des prix et contre ces mesures qui détruisent la vie des Tunisiens”.

Demonstrate in unity around the clear demand for an end to price rises and against policies which are destroying the lives of Tunisians.

More on the young citizens’ movement, Fech Nestanew (what are we waiting for?): Qui sont les militants de « Fech Nestanew », qui mobilise contre la vie chère en Tunisie ? Jeune Afrique 11.1.18.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 11, 2018 at 1:38 pm