Overall, if the results of the last legislative and presidential elections could reflect something, it would be that the average Tunisian citizen still does not feel included or appreciated in either the process of reconciliation or decision-making. Young, desperate Tunisians would rather take small boats to cross the Mediterranean instead of bearing another statement of the president and his prime minister. Dozens of boats full of Tunisian migrants were reported to have reached Italian shores, and dozens of others, if not more, sank in the deep sea. Meanwhile, a game is played out between the political machines, the instruments of propaganda, and the wealthy businessmen. Chahed wages his “war on corruption” every other day, he brings back figures of Ben Ali’s regime to key positions even within his cabinet, such as the new minister of defense, Abdelkarim Zbidi. Chahed freezes the assets of “corrupt” businessmen, and Essebsi greets them at Carthage presidential palace days later. This is all while austerity measures in Chahed’s 2018 budget threaten to place more pressure on the economic well-being of many ordinary Tunisians.
In the absence of the Tunisian External Communiciation Agency, the propaganda institution that was dissolved after the 2011 revolution, Chahed’s government has had to fight criticism of its austerity measures differently. The austerity measures do not cut officials’ high wages, lower the number of cars in their luxurious fleets, or reduce salaries of members of parliament for not showing up for their duties, but are instead a gradual lift of subsidies on certain food products and utilities such as water and electricity. While Tunisians might tolerate the return of the old regime’s figures for mere pragmatic reasons, they will not remain silent for long in the face of depravation. History has shown that major Tunisian uprisings were always linked to economic situations, as was the case during the Bread Riots that took place in 1984, with demonstrations against Bourguiba’s rule when subsidies on wheat and semolina were lifted. The current budget was met with such criticism that it led Chahed’s government to hire a German public relations company to represent it, according to a document leaked from a meeting of Chahed’s Republican Party.