Tunisian Democracy Challenged as Prime Minister Resigns

The resignation of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali in Tunisia has created a political crisis that the elected government will have to deal with. Jebali is a politician of the Muslim religious right, from the Ennahda Party, and had led an Ennahda-dominated cabinet in coalition with two smaller secular parties, Moncef Marzouki’s social democratic Congress for the Republic and another small partner.

The Jebali government was shaken by the assassination of secular opposition figure Chokry Belaid, a severe critic of the religious right. Many secular Tunisians openly accused Ennahda of the act (though without proof), withdrawing the public confidence necessary for Jebali to rule from that party. He therefore sought a shake-up of his cabinet, installing non-party technocrats to produce a government of national unity. The Ennahda Party parliamentarians, however, rejected that step. They have the largest bloc of members of parliament, around 40%, but are not a majority.

When Jebali found his proposal blocked, he stepped down Tuesday night. In essence, he treated his party’s rejection of his plan as a vote of no confidence. In parliamentary systems, prime ministers have to step down all the time when they lose a vote of no confidence. I see Jebali’s move as positive. He or someone else will have to try to form a government, being nominated by elected president Marzouki for the task.

Actually Jebali is not the first post-revolution prime minister to step down, and while the political crisis is regrettable (and especially the assassination that caused it), the political process is not. Tunisia was ruled by strongmen for most of its post-independence history, but now has leaders who need the support of parliament and of the people. As we see in Belgium or Italy, getting such support is not always straightforward. But that’s politics, and politics of a parliamentary sort are good, and much better than corrupt, oppressive, inflexible strong men.

Aljazeera English reports:

3 Responses

  1. “politics of a parliamentary sort are good, and much better than corrupt, oppressive, inflexible strong men.”

    Margaret Thatcher? Rupert Murdoch?

    One hopes the various interests in Tunisia will find a path to some metastable arrangement that trends always in the direction of what’s good and decent for ordinary people, you know, the kind of aspirational stuff that’s in the Preamble, and what is good for those planetary issues you also write about… Maybe they can show us muscular JefferHamilDullestonians the next steps that really ought to be taken…

      • Would you be referring to THIS National Democratic Institute?

        link to articles.latimes.com

        Or maybe THIS one?

        link to informationclearinghouse.info

        Which articles and connections through a whole other bunch of googlespace links you have to find by searching on something other than just “NDI” or National Democratic Institute, since it appears somebody has flooded google with entries that are all about the thin surface coating that leads people to believe that the “NDI” is the following phrase that appears all over the place so it must be true, right?

        “The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.”

        link to ndi.org, and thousands more entries that reassure us all is well, democracy is being spread, you are getting sleepy…

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