Julian Weinberg travelled to Tunisia, 9th – 11th May for a series of meetings with Tunisian political leaders from across the political spectrum. On his first day this included meeting with young politician activists in Mournagia newly elected in the local elections 6 May 2018. The elections saw youth and independent lists enjoying considerable successes at the ballot box in the local elections in spite of low turn out overall.
In discussions, the local councillors outlined their vision for local reforms to unlock the potential of their local areas. The new youth councillors in Mournagia reflect a broader pattern across the country that has seen independent lists, youth and women see real success at the ballot box. Indeed independents received the largest vote share at 32%, versus 28.6% for Ennahda and 20.8% for Nidaa Tounes. Accordingly, there is a new sense of excitement and empowerment among young people, regularly frustrated at the lack of opportunities and changes to their lives seven years after the revolution in 2011.
Such frustration bread disillusionment for many young people feeding a sense of hopelessness that the political system would bring real changes for them. But for those young people who have engaged the system, they view these local election results present a real opportunity to impact change at the local level, for example seeking to focus on reform of the administration, and strengthening the participatory approach and inclusion of youth in local decision making.
Despite the many challenges ahead, the sense is that there is a moment of change, with young activists finding new places for involvement in the political life of the country, and with that, the potential to bring change to their communities.