Demonstrators welcome decision to suspend parliament

After the Tunisian parliament has (temporarily) been suspended last night by its President Mustapaha Ben Jaafar a lot has been said on television, radio channels and social media. As mentioned in my previous post, the opposition considers it a (small) victory and did not hesitate to celebrate that en masse last night in Bardo square, Tunis. The decision to suspend the parliament was met with joy by almost all Tunisians who are (very) dissatisfied with the government’s policies and performance. However, government supporters were less joyful and in the early hours after Ben Jaafar made his decision public they were shocked, and “somewhat” annoyed. What is certain is that last night Bardo was more crowded than ever. Taking into account last night’s demonstration was the 10th in a row. To get an impression of last night’s demonstration one should just take a look at the video filmed by Nawaat:

Although estimations differ widely on how much people attended last nights demonstration in Bardo it is obvious that due to the suspension the opposition feels strengthened and hopes to continue to gain momentum to topple the government. Some of the “arguing” over which demonstration (pro or anti-government) attracts more people is typical of the crisis the country is in. What is certain is that the current crisis does seem to increase political activism among many ordinary Tunisians and a lot of young people. In that sense you could also argue that the current “show of force” by pro and anti-government supporters is in itself already a positive sign for Tunisian democracy.

Proposed solutions to solve the crisis

Last night Tunisian television was filled with live debates where politicians from different parties were discussing the decision to suspend parliament and how to get the country out of this crisis. Of course, each party has its own narrative of why Ben Jaafar felt the need to suspend parliament and who is to blame. What is more interesting however is the solution each party proposes. A quick look on their facebook pages offers a good indication in what each party considers to be right solution right now:

Governing Troika coalition:

Ennahda: Dissolving the parliament is a “red line” and any future government should be headed by the current Prime Minister (Ali Laareydh, Ennahda) to respect democracy, the ballot box and therefore the government’s legitimacy.

CPR: Same stance as Ennahda above.

Ettakatol: Dissolving parliament is a “red line”, national salvation government should be formed to lead the country until next elections are held.

Opposition:

Call of Tunisia (Nidaa Tounes): The parliament should be dissolved and the current draft of the constitution should be reviewed & finalized by experts in constitutional law. A national salvation government should be formed and made up by people who will not be a candidate in the next elections.

Popular Front (Front Popular): Same stance as Call of Tunisia (Nidaa Tounes) above.

Republican Party (Parti Republicain): Parliament should not be dissolved but should – on the contrary – continue to finish writing the new constitution. A national salvation government should lead the country until next elections are held.

Wafa Movement (Mouvement Wafa): Dissolving parliament is a “red line” because of its legitimacy and representing the will of people through the ballot box. Any future government leading the country is open for discussion.

Although in general a distinction can be made between the government coalition and opposition parties and their solutions for the current crisis, it is also true that there are some “cross-dependencies”. Meaning that some opposition parties are closer to parties of the government than you would expect. The oppositional Wafa Movement (an offshoot of the governing CPR) considers dissolving parliament just like governing Ennahda and CPR a red line. The Republican Party agrees with them that parliament should not be dissolved but at the same time they do demonstrate every evening against the government. However, the Republican Party’s solution that the parliament should stay as it is opposes their current colleague demonstrators from the Popular Front or Call of Tunisia (Nidaa Tounes).

Starting tomorrow there will be two days of religious festivities signifying the end of Ramadan, Ied al-Fitr. I expect politics for just those 2 days to slow down considering the fact that all of Tunisia will go back to their family today for celebrations. This weekend and especially the beginning of next week we can expect to get back to “normal” again..which means a political climate full of tensions and a lot of demands of how to get out the the crisis. We can expect most probably also demonstrations to continue by both sides to strengthen their demands.

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