Tunisia fluctuates between political maze and far-reaching solutions

Zouhair Makhlouf

Tunisia is currently living the most critical turning point in its political, social, economic and financial life. Through this article, we will shed the light on the political juncture and its manifestations and repercussions on the Tunisian state in general and on political life in particular.

Basically, the Tunisian political arena is witnessing a crucial turn in which the political and social actors lack the values, foundations and principles that regulate the rules of engagement, so the external actor is called to influence the Tunisian events, whether by penetrating the joints of the economy or by providing a hidden or direct support through the political funds that flow from time to time within the assets of some associations loyal to specific parties.

The moment foreign media intervenes in support of this or that party or plants the wedges of sedition through instigation or incredulity, the conflict becomes more intense and parties exchange accusations about loyalty  to regional or international (Turkey, Qatar, UAE and France) actors. This actually what happened with the Libyan player who has been framed in the pivots game and with the President who has been involved in these disputes, which weakened his position as a president for the entire society.

With this behavior, the inputs of the Tunisian political game have oscillated between the internal conflict and the junctures of the regional and international maze. The main goal was to remove political Islam from the game of rule and influence inside Tunisia and to distort its image and depict it as an outsider and non-national entity. At present,  such disputes intensified to raise the slogan of toppling the parliament after Ghannouchi reeled the Mishichi government, after he had been appointed by the President, to be adapted for the interest of the strong parliamentary coalition (Ennahda Movement, Dignity Coalition and Heart of Tunisia Party) to serve their interest and implement their agenda.

Based on this, the voices of toppling the parliament and the government became loud, and its sources and advocates multiplied. Accordingly, people differed about who stand behind this wave; supporters of Kais Saied or losers of 2019 elections from the old traditional parties. From their part,  intellectuals and secular elites in addition to former regime remnants are gathering in this direction, raising voices to dissolve parliament while Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Minister and former Secretary-General of the Democratic Movement, Mr. Mohamed Abbou, joined these calls, urging on the army to deploy, hold matters firmly and to  hold those politicians who spoiled political and public life accountable. Finally, the wave reached to the highest point and calls rose to amend the mixed system of government, replacing it with a presidential system after a referendum to amend the constitution and dissolve the parliament.

Are such calls can be verified and implemented?

In this regard, it is worth emphasizing those demands and slogans will remain raised but can’t find its way to be applied in real political life for several reasons:

Firstly, is that the referendum, as stipulated in the Tunisian constitution in its Article 82, shall only be held for the sake of draft laws relevant to the approval of treaties, freedoms and human rights, or personal status ratified by the Peoples’ Assembly “The referendum isn’t held for the purposes of changing the political system, moreover, the constitution does not allow the President to propose legislative initiatives to modify and amend the constitution, given that such matters require the inevitability of establishing the Constitutional Court to guarantee if these initiatives are not related to these articles that aren’t subject to adjustment as per the constitution (the 2014 constitution).” It also requires the approval of two-thirds of the members of the parliament to be able to turn it into a referendum. Reading the current political scene in Tunisia, this is too impossible to happen.

The absence of the Constitutional Court reinforced the anarchic scene on terms of the constitutional powers of the Tunisian state pillars.

Moreover, the chapters that embody the form of the political system to be changed are presented in all aspects of the Tunisian constitution from its beginning to its end, whether those chapters related to the powers of Parliament or the government or chapters tackling the powers of the President and powers of the constitutional bodies and other matters.

Perhaps the absence of the Constitutional Court may further intensify the cycle of impossibility and the lack of a way out and a window for this maze.

These voices were not satisfied with the calls for changing the form of the political system of government, but moved to the call to bring down the parliament and dissolve it completely, which is considered an echo of those who ignore the fundamentals of change, the realism of the revolutionary slogans and the constitutional and legal components of the reasonableness while embodying the demands of the masses.

It is gotten to the point that many intellectuals, legislators and constitutional law figures such as Sadiq Belaid to legitimize the possibility of dissolving Parliament by the President based on Article 80 of the constitution, which states that “The President of the republic, in a situation of imminent danger threatening the existence of the homeland and the country’s security and independence, where it is difficult for him to get the wheels of the state functioning normally, to take the measures required by this exceptional case, after consulting the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Peoples’ Assembly, informing the President of the Constitutional Court, and announcing the measures in a statement to the people.”

These measures must aim to ensure the normal functioning of the state’s wheels as soon as possible. The Parliament is considered to be in permanent session throughout this period, and in this case the President of the Republic shall not dissolve the Assembly of the Representatives and also a censure bill shall not be submitted against the government.

After the lapse of thirty days since getting these measures into force, and at every time thereafter, the Constitutional Court is entrusted to request from the Speaker of the Peoples’ Assembly or thirty of its members to decide whether or not to continue the exceptional situation.

The court shall publicly declare its decision within a maximum period of fifteen days, and these measures shall be terminated when their causes cease to exist.

The president of the republic delivers a statement in this regard to the people.

From what stated above, we conclude that these calls and these slogans that filled the national media whether  visible, readable  or audible, as well as social media sites, are attempts to catch the wind, given that this constitutional text assumes “even in the imminent danger that threats the existence and independence of the homeland and get it impossible to continue the normal role of the state’s wheels, the Peoples’ assembly remains  in permanent session and does not allow the President of the Republic in any way to dissolve the Assembly.”

The only chapter that allows the dissolution of the Peoples’ Assembly in Tunisia has been exceeded temporarily, objectively and formally. It is Article no 89, which deals with forming the first government after the end of the elections, which states that “Within a week of announcing the final results of the elections, the President of the Republic shall assign the candidate or the electoral coalition that obtained the largest number of seats in the Assembly of the Representatives the mission of forming a government within a month, to be renewed once , and when the specified period is exceeded without forming the government, or in the event that the confidence of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People is not obtained, the President shall, within a period of ten days hold  consultations with parties, coalitions, and parliamentary blocs to assign the most capable person to form a government within a maximum period of one month … If  four months have passed since the first assignment and the members of the parliament do not give confidence to the government, the President has the right to dissolve the Peoples’  Assembly and call for new legislative elections “.

This is the only case that imposes the possibility of dissolving Parliament. In fact, it has been formally, realistically and temporally passed, and it is no longer valid for any other hypothesis or possibility throughout the rest of parliamentary life.

 The Tunisian army does not have the mechanism and capabilities to break into the political situation and bring about change

Thus, it becomes nonsense to raise slogans of changing the form of the political system or dissolving parliament. Plus, these calls for army deployment and empowerment to rule are one of the impossible assumptions because it is refused on the constitutional, civil and political levels. Moreover, the Tunisian army is not prepared and not welcomed internationally to involve in the arena of politics, rather, its absolute and strategic interest lies in remaining in its barracks.

Finally, the hypothesis of a second revolution is deemed elusive, because all the political, civil and revolutionary actors that were present in the Revolution of Freedom and Dignity in 2011 have lost any hope of changing the state of the country with a new revolution due to the indebtedness and deterioration of the social and economic situation that Tunisia reached after a full decade, where people suffered misfortune, and helpless, relapse, destruction and fracture.

There is nothing left except the preparation for the upcoming election and submission to the ballot box results produced in the new political scene.

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