After months of political wrangling, Tunisia’s parliament approves new government

After months of political wrangling, Tunisia’s parliament approves new government
After months of political wrangling, Tunisia’s parliament approves new government

Coalition government is approved in a 129-77 vote, after the inclusion of candidates from across the political spectrum

Faisal Edroos
Thu, 02/27/2020 – 06:00

Tunisia faces a series of long-term economic challenges which threaten to undermine public trust in the young democracy (Reuters)

Tunisia’s fractured parliament has voted to approve the formation of a new coalition government, bringing an end to months of political deadlock in the only democracy to emerge from the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings.

Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh’s government passed a vote of confidence by 129 to 77 on Thursday, after weeks of complicated talks with Ennahda, the party with the largest number of seats in parliament.

The moderate “Muslim democrats,” who have popular appeal across the North African country, had earlier said they would not sign off on the cabinet, but reneged when Fakhfakh brought together a coalition from across the political spectrum.

The new government, which was presented to President Kais Saied last week, includes lawmakers from an array of political parties, including Ennahda, Tahya Tounes, Achaab, Attayar, the El Badil parties and independents

“We have spent a lot of time since the 6 October legislative elections to form a government,” parliament Speaker Rachid Ghannouchi told lawmakers ahead of the confidence vote.

“All this has proved the strength of the Tunisian experience and its ability to manage discord and dialogue in accordance with the constitution and away from populism and political tension.”

Qalb Tounes, the party of controversial media tycoon Nabil Karoui, and the Free Destourian Party, led by anti-Islamist lawyer Abir Moussi, both voted against the government line-up, after being excluded from coalition talks with Fakhfakh.

The prime minister had refused their participation after vowing to only draw support from parties he considered were in line with the goals of the 2011 revolution.

‘Pro-revolution and anti-corruption’

The only country to transition to a democracy since the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising, rather than face a crackdown, civil war or partial steps, Tunisia has had nine governments since 2011 with political infighting and protests mounting against austerity-driven coalition governments.

The North African country has a 15 percent unemployment rate, a large public debt and inadequate public services – problems that drove voters to reject the political establishment in this autumn’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

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Analysts say with Qalb Tounes serving in opposition to the government, Fakhfakh’s government may struggle to gain the strong parliamentary majority needed  to resolve the country’s long-standing economic problems.

“Fakhfakh’s coalition will be more ideologically coherent than the 2015 Ennahda-Nidaa Tounes alliance, in the sense that these parties will be primarily pro-revolution and anti-corruption,” Sharan Grewal, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Middle East Eye.

“That said, there is little agreement on the major economic reforms – Tahya Tounes and Achaab publicly disagreed on whether to permit the privatisation of state-owned enterprises. 

“So I think the coalition will focus initially on the main economic reform that unites them – anti-corruption – and further postpone the structural reforms to the public sector until the coalition can find agreement internally.”

Tunis

After months of political wrangling, Tunisia’s parliament approves new government

Coalition government is approved in a 129-77 vote, after the inclusion of candidates from across the political spectrum

Faisal Edroos
Thu, 02/27/2020 – 06:00

Tunisia faces a series of long-term economic challenges which threaten to undermine public trust in the young democracy (Reuters)

Tunisia’s fractured parliament has voted to approve the formation of a new coalition government, bringing an end to months of political deadlock in the only democracy to emerge from the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings.

Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh’s government passed a vote of confidence by 129 to 77 on Thursday, after weeks of complicated talks with Ennahda, the party with the largest number of seats in parliament.

The moderate “Muslim democrats,” who have popular appeal across the North African country, had earlier said they would not sign off on the cabinet, but reneged when Fakhfakh brought together a coalition from across the political spectrum.

The new government, which was presented to President Kais Saied last week, includes lawmakers from an array of political parties, including Ennahda, Tahya Tounes, Achaab, Attayar, the El Badil parties and independents

“We have spent a lot of time since the 6 October legislative elections to form a government,” parliament Speaker Rachid Ghannouchi told lawmakers ahead of the confidence vote.

“All this has proved the strength of the Tunisian experience and its ability to manage discord and dialogue in accordance with the constitution and away from populism and political tension.”

Qalb Tounes, the party of controversial media tycoon Nabil Karoui, and the Free Destourian Party, led by anti-Islamist lawyer Abir Moussi, both voted against the government line-up, after being excluded from coalition talks with Fakhfakh.

The prime minister had refused their participation after vowing to only draw support from parties he considered were in line with the goals of the 2011 revolution.

‘Pro-revolution and anti-corruption’

The only country to transition to a democracy since the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising, rather than face a crackdown, civil war or partial steps, Tunisia has had nine governments since 2011 with political infighting and protests mounting against austerity-driven coalition governments.

The North African country has a 15 percent unemployment rate, a large public debt and inadequate public services – problems that drove voters to reject the political establishment in this autumn’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

#EnaZeda: Tunisian ‘Me Too’ movement met with both support and smear tactics

Read More »

Analysts say with Qalb Tounes serving in opposition to the government, Fakhfakh’s government may struggle to gain the strong parliamentary majority needed  to resolve the country’s long-standing economic problems.

“Fakhfakh’s coalition will be more ideologically coherent than the 2015 Ennahda-Nidaa Tounes alliance, in the sense that these parties will be primarily pro-revolution and anti-corruption,” Sharan Grewal, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Middle East Eye.

“That said, there is little agreement on the major economic reforms – Tahya Tounes and Achaab publicly disagreed on whether to permit the privatisation of state-owned enterprises. 

“So I think the coalition will focus initially on the main economic reform that unites them – anti-corruption – and further postpone the structural reforms to the public sector until the coalition can find agreement internally.”

Tunisia parliament: Breakdown of seats
Tunis


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Faisal Edroos

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Faisal Edroos