Tunisia was the Arab Spring’s first success. Will it be its last failure?
President has taken on near dictatorial powers, and it seems only military and largest labour union can save democracy
Amid Tunisia’s political upheaval, it is easy to hear echoes of the events in Egypt eight years ago. In 2013, widespread protests against an unpopular Islamist government allowed General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to take power in what amounted to a coup.
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied may not wear military fatigues, but he’s doing a pretty good Sisi impression nonetheless. Taking advantage of demonstrations against an unpopular Islamist-backed government, he has suspended the country’s elected parliament and sacked the prime minister, effectively assuming dictatorial authority over the country.
Only months ago, Tunisia was being celebrated anew as the only country that remained a democracy in the decade after the Arab Spring. There is a real risk the gains secured then may now be lost, just as they were in Egypt. The task of forestalling that dreadful outcome falls again to the Tunisians who overthrew their dictator in January 2011, and to the two institutions that played pivotal roles back then: the military and the labour unions...