Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Real Politics in Tunisia

Tunisia just held the second consecutive peaceful election since its revolution, real cause for celebration given how the Arab Spring has played out everywhere else. The two main parties were Ennhada, always described as "moderate Islamists," and Nidaa Tounes, generally described as "secular." With those descriptions in mind, westerners have generally cheered the victory of Nidaa Tounes. But Nidaa Tounes is a strange party, a mishmash of labor groups, feminists, environmentalists, and hacks from the old, dictatorial regime unified by nothing but opposition to Islamism. Their leader, 87-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi, is an old regime holdover not above accusing all his opponents of supporting terrorism, and some Ennhada activists are worried that he will use that excuse to break their party and arrest all of its leaders. In other words, the competing factions in Tunisia are actually much the same as in Egypt, and there is danger that the same scenario will unfold. So far, though, everyone in Tunisia has been more moderate, and things have been worked out through the democratic process. May they continue to do so for many years to come.

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