Seven years after the beginning of the revolution that overthrew the dictatorship of Ben Ali, Tunisians still suffer from the poor economic health of their country. And the change in the administrations is extremely slow.
On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old fruit vendor, set himself on fire in Tunisia to protest the confiscation of his merchandise by police officers. His act of desperation triggered a protest movement across several countries known as the “Arab Spring”. With escalating events, this has lead to the fall of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali January 14, 2011. By overthrowing their dictator, Tunisians probably hoped for a better tomorrow, but today, the country is still boiling.
The country has kept the same economic model, with the same problems as before the 2011 revolution during which people were shouting “work, freedom, national dignity!” but it seems like the situation continues to worsen despite democratic progress. But unemployment, misery and social and regional inequalities have worsened leading to a greater risk of instability.
The Tunisian economy has been severely affected by the instability that followed the uprising of December 2010-January 2011 especially the tourism industry, a key sector, suffered from the major terrorist attacks that hit Tunisia in 2015.
This slow-motion economy, is a situation that despairs Tunisians who do not see their living conditions improve, and lose hope for the future. A macabre phenomenon has developed these last years: the immolation as a gesture of despair, since life and death became equal.
Activists argue that even though Ben Ali is out and we are in a transitional democratic process, the system instated by the former regime is still functioning, especially in the heavy administration.
In the administrations, the old habits of the dictatorship die hard. Seven years after the revolution, the change is far from being described as radical as would have been desired by Tunisians. We still see the same people in public administrations , with the same reflexes, which means that Ben Ali’s Tunisia is still alive and fully functional but with some ”democratic” tweaks. There is always some violence and some negligence of the administration when the citizens try to assert their rights. But with the arrival of new recruits, who are young and motivated by the impact of their work, the mentality changes little by little and a new generation is taking more responsibilities, slowly but steadily.
I think there is one point that differentiates Tunisia from the rest of the region: Freedom of the press. Today, people can use the press and networks to denounce corruption and police violence and the authorities are obliged to take it into account. Which is the biggest achievement so far in the democratic process.
Even though the situation remains bad in Tunisia, I believe it is improving slowly and a bright future ahead of us is waiting.