August 24, 2021
Ricard González (Túnes), “El presidente de Túnez prolonga indefinidamente sus plenos poderes; La decisión llega un mes después de la destitución del primer ministro y la suspensión de la actividad del Parlamento del país magrebí,” El País, el 25 de Agosto 2021 (12:15 a.m. CET).
1) Shadi Hamid, “Tunisia, democracy, and the return of American hypocrisy,” Brookings, August 3, 21021;
originally published in The Atlantic, July 30, 2021.
2) Sarah E. Yerkes, “The Tunisia Model in Crisis; The President’s Power Grab Risks an Authoritarian Regression,” Foreign Affairs, August 6, 2021;
3) Ricard González (Túnez), “El presidente de Túnez asume plenos poderes en medio de las protestas y abre una crisis constitucional; El dirigente depone al primer ministro y suspende un mes la actividad en el Parlamento, mientras la oposición habla de golpe de Estado,” El País, 26 de julio 2021 (1:47 a.m. CEST)
4) Ricard González (Túnez),”La crisis constitucional de Túnez entra en punto muerto; El presidente Said se resiste a nombrar a otro primer ministro y a aclarar su hoja de ruta para el país,” El País, 05 ago 2021 (14:52 CEST).
5) Lilia Blaise (Tunis), “En Tunisie, le président Saïed soigne ses militaires; Elu à la présidence en 2019, Kaïs Saïed essaie de s’appuyer sur l’armée, qui entretient des relations distantes avec le pouvoir depuis sa création en 1956,”Le Monde, le 5 Août 2021 (à 10h27, mis à 18h07).
In Tunisia, the cradle of the Arab Spring of 2011, where democracy has until recently survived, President Kais Saied seized all powers on July 25, 2021, in what amounted to a coup d’état.
Applying a distorted interpretation of Article 80 of the Constitution, and without complying with its requirements, he dismissed the prime minister, fired the minister of the interior, dissolved the parliament, and arrested several deputies. For the moment, the coup appears to be popular wmong the people, especially the young, who in the midst of a raging Covid-19 pandemic, seem to have lost faith in democracy, placing, or misplacing, their hopes in a new strongman.
The reaction of the United States and other countries which provide foreign assistance to Tunisia has been mild. Shadi Hamid, above, points oout that the United States appears to have adopted again a hpocritical posture of giving lip service to the goals of democracy, while doing nothing effective to defend it in countries like Tunisia.
The game, however, is not yet over. It is conceivable that strong pressues by the United States and other countries and the IMF which provide financial assistance to Tunisia might persuade Saied to pull back from the brink, and to allow matters to return to normal after the initial 30 days of the emergency powers decree under Article 8o expire. Shadi Hamid suggests, however, that observers should not hold their breaths waiting for President Biden to undertake bold action in defense of Tunisian democracy. Human rights grouups and NGO’s, on the other hand, have spoken out strongly against Saied ‘s seizure of power.
This is one important situation where strong leadership by the United States could help to preserve Tunisian democracy, and hopes for democracy in the Arab world. The challenge to democratic values is strong, particularly when the population appears to support or to be acquiescing in the seizure of power by Saied.
These developments seem to represent a classic scenario for the birth of a new authoritarian regime. In January 1933, Adolf Hitler was popular among many, particularly those who had lost faith in democracy, while others acquiesced in Hitler’s rise to power. Things did not work out very well for them, or Germany, or the world.
Biden faces a frontal challenge to democracy in Tunis, where strong leadership could make a difference.
Will he step up to the plate?
The Trenxhant Observer