TUNISIAN DEMOCRACY? "THE KINGDOM OF BEN ALI"?
Tunisia Keywords:, Ben Ali, democracy The next parliamentary and presidential elections were held in Tunisia on October 25, 2009. Tunisia's current president, Zine al - Abidine Ben Ali, was re-elected for a fifth term in office. Most of the seats in Parliament - 161 out of 214 - went, as expected, to the ruling party-the Democratic Constitutional Association(DKO)1. Turnout was 89.4% of the 5.2 million Tunisians eligible to vote (the country's population is 10.4 million). The President and members of Parliament in Tunisia are elected simultaneously, for a term of 5 years. The last elections did not differ much from the previous ones (1999 and 2004). Everything followed the same pattern, except for some amendments made to the electoral code, which will be discussed below. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS-ALL FOR BEN ALI? The undisputed favorite of the elections, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, came to power in a top-level coup on November 7, 1987, when the first president of Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba, 84, who had ruled the country continuously for three decades (the last 12 years - on a life-long basis), was removed from his duties for "medical reasons". The bloodless change of power was called the "jasmine revolution". And if Bourguiba was called a "Great Fighter", referring to his leading role in the struggle for independence of the country, then Ben Ali won the honorary title of "Man of Change", because the very fact of the coup was presented as the beginning of a "new era", or "Era of change". The first steps of the new president are to lift restrictions on the activities of legal opposition parties and declare a course for the development of political pluralism. In 1988, Ben Ali repealed the Constitution's provision on a lifetime presidency and reduced the number of possible re-elections of the head of State to two terms. However, in 2002, a constitutional amendment was introduced that gave Ben Ali the opportunity to become president for the fifth time.2 Despite the declaration of ... Read more
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