The news out of the first round of presidential voting last week seems to be that Tunisian voters are already tired of bland, compromising centrism and looking for something new. The candidates from Ennahda and Tahya Tounes both failed to make the second round; instead the candidates will be a lawyer who says he has never voted before and a local media mogul in jail on charges of tax evasion:
There have been warning signs that this politics of consensus would prove hollow. There has been a sharp decline in public confidence in political institutions: Trust in parliament has fallen to 14 percent, and trust in political parties stands at just 9 percent, according to a recent Arab Barometer survey. That explains the low turnout for the Sept. 15 vote. Tunisians have been making their political claims through street protests: There have been up to 10,000 protests every year since 2016.As to why, well
Promises of economic recovery have not been fulfilled, and both unemployment and inflation remain high. . . . Many Tunisians hope that this public rejection of the political elite will reset the system and revive the promises of the 2011 uprising for accountable, legitimate government and wider economic opportunities for all.I have to think that globalization is also involved. Tunisians follow the news from Europe closely, so they know that Europeans are not at all satisfied with their own blandly centrist governments.
Democracy is a balancing act. For it to work, the voters have to demand accountability; otherwise it slides into corruption and back room dealing. But if what the voters are demanding is simply not possible, that won't work either, opening the way to grandstanding liars (ahem) and authoritarianism. The things Tunisian voters are said to be demanding make me nervous.