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Updated Feb 28, 2020

Tunisia has managed to head off a new political crisis after its legislature approved the government of recently appointed prime minister Elyes Fakhfakh. The final vote tally was 129 for, 77 against, and one abstention, putting an end to four months of political uncertainty that led to a threat by President Kais Saied of dissolving parliament and calling for new elections. Up until the final discussions between parliamentary delegates, no one knew whether Fakhfakh would continue his tenure as the chief legislator. He received fewer votes than his two predecessors, indicating divisions not only between the parties making up his governing coalition but also within the parties themselves.


Why It Matters

Tunisia, where the pro-democracy uprisings that became the Arab Spring started in 2010, is one of the only countries to have emerged as a popular democracy. Most of the other countries in North Africa and the Middle East that saw mass protests against autocratic rule have either fallen into civil war or rallied under a new dictatorial strongman. Deliberations over the shape of Tunisia’s government threatened to derail Tunisia’s nascent democracy, whose relative stability in the wake of the Arab Spring offers hope for advocates of democratic reforms in other countries.


Promises, But No Detail 

In his address to parliament, Fakhfakh reaffirmed his commitment to several issues concerning Tunisia’s economy and social stability, among them a resolve to address corruption, cost of living, protection for small- and medium-sized businesses, stabilizing the Tunisian currency, and lowering the inflation rate. The address did not mention specifics nor a budget analysis, which has some analysts worried about the feasibility of the new Fakhfakh government’s ability to see these reforms through.


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