News / Africa

For Tunisia, No Easy Path to Prosperity

Empty market in the town of Houmet Souq on the island of Djerba, Tunisia, July 9, 2011
Empty market in the town of Houmet Souq on the island of Djerba, Tunisia, July 9, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

What's next for Tunisia?  After a revolution and its first democratic elections, the North African country must now craft a new political system. The next government faces formidable economic problems.  And while Tunisia's popular uprising inspired revolts across the Arab world this year, can it serve as a model for future Arab democracies?

After the celebrations, many Tunisians are back at work - or at coffee houses, a favorite hangout for the many unemployed men.

Ennahdha victory

The moderate Islamist Ennahdha party won the most seats in Sunday's vote for a Constituent Assembly. But it is already in talks with its rivals.

Ennahdha spokeswoman Yusra Ghannouchi says the party's message is inclusive. "We believe these ethical values that inspire us are universal values, and we believe there is much in common between us and other Tunisian secular parties," she said.

The assembly must write a new constitution and appoint an interim government to run daily affairs. That's only part of the challenge.

Unemployment - which helped drive Tunisia's January revolution - remains high. Investment is down. So is the country's key tourism industry.

Looking forward

But political blogger Kerim Bouzouita is optimistic that will change. He claims the revolution also eradicated widespread corruption that existed under ousted dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

"With Ben Ali's regime, we got a mafia. In Tunisia, it wasn't really a free market. If you wanted to make business, you had to deal with the Ben Alis," said Bouzouita.

Tunisia expert Steven Ekovich, of the American University of Paris, predicts a tough road ahead for this small country.

"The problems are long-term, they're deep. It's going to take a long time for Tunisia to pull out of it. But if any country can do it, I think Tunisia can."

Role model?

But can Tunisia, which inspired other Arab Spring uprisings, be a model for democratic change? Two other Arab countries - Egypt and Morocco - hold elections next month.

Tunisia is small, modern, relatively homogeneous and Western-oriented. Its population is highly educated. Unlike protests elsewhere in the Arab world, its revolution was relatively peaceful.

"Tunisia will be an experience. But I don't know if it will be a model. It won't depend on Tunisians, but on Syrians, on Yemenis, on Egyptians," said Kerim Bouzouita.

But the Arab world will be watching Tunisia's democratic experience. If it works, it may become the first of others to come.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid