The tenth anniversary of the “revolution of dignity” was marked not by celebrations but by the
popular disappointment. The round figure anniversary of the protests that, between December 2010 and January 2011, led to the fall of the regime of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has made even clearer the problematic sides of Tunisian democracy.
problematic sides of Tunisian democracy. The transition never defined by the regime of Ben Ali to a
completed democracy, the economic situation that increasingly penalizes the fragile sectors of society, and the weight of tthe Covid-19 pandemic: these are the main elements of a crisis that, between 2020 and
2021, has reached dangerous levels for the stability of the country.
The numbers speak for themselves. The most affected by the social unease are mainly the youth. A striking set of data regards emigration: 13 thousand Tunisians have reached the Italian coasts in 2020, a number five times higher than the figure for 2019, according to the Tunisian Forum of Economic and Social Rights.
Many among them were, however, subject to repatriation. In the first five months of 2021 alone, more than 5 thousand were the migrants intercepted by the Italian authorities, a clear indicator that there is a growing desire to escape from Tunisia. The very National Institute of Statistics explains the reasons for emigration. The unemployment rate among young people in the 15-24 age group has exceeded 40%, a figure that already explains the discomfort and the increasingly widespread protest.
Street demonstrations of various types have doubled in one year, between May 2020 and the spring of 2021. If protests over growing poverty and lack of work represent the bulk of the demonstrations, the tension in the street for the repressive and violent behaviour of Tunisian police forces, which grew exponentially in 2021. A demonstration that some of the causes of the revolution of dignity have not beenremoved. The memory of the political suicide of Mohammed Bouazizi in December 2010, after the harassment of the police in Sidi Bouzid, was present in the protests that burned the banlieue of Tunis in June 2021.
Particularly in Sidi Hassine, after the death (in unexplained circumstances) of a 30-year-old man from the neighborhood, Ahmed ben Ammar, during the interrogation to which he was subjected in a
police station. The viral video of the humiliation of a 15-year-old boy, stripped naked, beaten and taken away was found in a policeman’s cell phone: this was the fuse of increasingly widespread protests.
Criticism is levelled not only at the inadequately reformed security apparatus, but also in Tunisian politics and institutions.The election as President of the Republic of independent Kais Saied, considered an expression (although conservative) of the 2011 revolution, has not resolved the political transition. This is evident in the very harsh confrontation between Kais Saied and Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi. A confrontation that became public in January 2021, when the President refused to swear in the new ministers of the reshuffle wanted by Mechichi, which forced the Prime Minister to take on the interim of the departments that had been left vacant.
The increased role of the Islamist Ennahda party and its leader, speaker of the Parliament Rachid al Ghannouchi, is on various levels (including regional politics), one of the main components of a real conflict of power and between powers.