Between the 9th – 12th, Forward Thinking was in Tunisia for meetings with members of the government, the leaders of Political Parties and the UGTT, as well as meetings with youth and civil society. The purpose of the visit was to understand recent developments in the country and to explore the challenges facing the Tunisia’s democratic transition.
As part of this process of consultation, meetings were held with President Beji Caid Essbesi and with Sheikh Rashid Al Ghannoushi, as well as with Members of Parliament.
The need to address Tunisia’s economic challenges remains the central focus for the government. Young people (under the age of 35) are the majority of voters, however, they are increasingly disillusioned due to the lack of socio-economic opportunities. This frustration has translated into widespread protests in recent months and there are concerns many young people will not vote in the parliamentary and presidential elections of 2019. Accordingly, it is hoped that progress on the economy could help contribute to the strengthening of political stability – the more government and political parties to address key concerns of young people the more likely it is that they will see the value in participating in elections.
Given the high levels of economic trade and shared values of democracy, Europe can play an ever larger role in supporting economic and political stability in the country and helping its leaders meet the needs of Tunisian citizens.