Security and economic issues dominate the current debate in Tunisia. Since the beginning of 2013 there have been more and more clashes with violent Salafist groups. The security situation has stabilized since 2016. The economic situation in Tunisia is still tense, which is leading to increased protest movements, especially in the impoverished regions of the interior.
Coming to terms with the reigns of Bourguiba and Ben Ali is another major challenge for the new Tunisia. With the convocation of various commissions to deal with corruption under Ben Ali and to investigate the attacks on the civilian population since December 17, 2010, and the dissolution of the political police, a first step in this direction was taken, but it came to nothing.
The new constitution sets up various commissions, some of which are limited in time, some of which are permanent, to deal with issues such as corruption or the crimes of dictatorship. In the summer of 2014 the so-called Authority for Truth and Dignity (IVD) started its work. It recorded more than 62,000 cases, but held just under 50,000 hearings until shortly before the end of the mandate. Your mandate ends at the end of 2018. The final report was handed over to the head of state and is due to be presented to the public in early 2019. Special chambers for transitional justice at the criminal courts have been processing particularly serious cases of torture since 2018 and political oppression. A special aspect of Tunisian transitional justice is that entire regions can be recognized as victims of the dictatorship. Kasserine was the first region to apply for this status. Between December 2016 and the end of 2017, public hearings of victims took place around monthly, which were also broadcast live on radio and television. The non-governmental organization Avocats sans frontières (ASF) documents a number of the trials before the special courts. The IVD’s mandate officially ended at the end of May 2019.
At the same time, for example, the professional association of lawyers criticized the still lack of independence of the judiciary, in which there were no personnel changes. The vast majority of the members of the old regime who were arrested in 2011, including all ministers in his previous government, are now at large.
Another question that has sparked heated debates in politics and civil society is that of the role of religion, which overshadows many other questions. After January 14th, a heated debate erupted over the question of whether or not Tunisia’s constitution should refer to religion. Only a few parties openly speak out in favor of a separation. However, they avoid the expression secularism, as this is equated with the French model in Tunisia and has a strong negative connotation. As a rule, therefore, one speaks of the separation of politics and religion. On the other hand, increased religiosity can be observed and there are more and more demonstrations by Islamist groups, which also occur again and again violent clashes with security forces.
The so-called law on economic reconciliation, which has been discussed several times in various drafts since 2015, regularly causes heated debates. It essentially provides impunity against payment of a fine for corrupt businessmen and officials from the days of the dictatorship.
According to ehealthfacts, at the beginning of 2018 there were protests and, in some cases, clashes with the police in various regions of Tunisia. The trigger was a new finance law that would make the living conditions of the poor population even worse, according to the demonstrators.
The Tunisian political landscape is still fragmented. Frequent changes of party affiliation are the norm for many political actors. New parties are founded again and again, most recently at the beginning of 2019 the Tahya Tounes party (Long live Tunisia) of the then Prime Minister Youssef Chahed. Internal party and internal political disputes mean that political decision-making processes often drag on for a long time.
Tunisia ranks 73rd out of 180 on the Transparency International Corruption Index (2018). After the upheaval in 2011, the country does worse than it did under Ben Ali. So-called minor corruption in particular has increased since then. In everyday life, traffic offenses and administrative matters are particularly affected by corruption, where bribes are often used to speed up proceedings or to avoid parking tickets. This goes so far that certain male first names have established themselves as codes for certain amounts of money (in relation to the people who are depicted on the banknotes).
A commission to investigate corruption and embezzlement, which was set up after January 14, 2011, found, among other things, the equivalent of 23 million euros in cash in various currencies in the palace of the overthrown president. In June 2011, Ben Ali was sentenced in absentia to 35 years imprisonment and a fine of around 45 million euros.
In December 2012, the Ministry of Finance began selling goods belonging to the former ruler and his family. The government is hoping for a profit of at least 10 million euros, which should flow into the 2013 budget. However, the profits were lower than hoped.
The anti-corruption authority raises awareness of the issue and regularly transfers suspected corruption cases to the judiciary, where they are not given priority. Your head himself sees the authority’s room for maneuver as limited. At the end of May 2017, the government launched a campaign against suspected corrupt businesspeople. The so-called Operation Clean Hands has so far mainly hit smugglers.