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Tunisia: The enemy within

The election for the Constituent Assembly was marked by both a high turnout and the rise of the Ennahda party. Long considered firm favourites to win the election (see les grands favoris du scrutin), the Islamists have made quite an entrance onto the Tunisian political scene.

It’s a situation that is causing concern abroad and among the Western embassies, but also internally. On both the left and right, Tunisian republicans, believers not in the secular model – in Tunisia, Islam is the state religion – but in strong government, fear their victory will encourage radicalism.

In this respect, women will have a special role. They enjoy a rather liberal status, with the right to divorce, compulsory education, etc, and it is through their fight for their rights that Tunisia must be measured. Moreover, the fragmentation of the political parties could lead to parliamentary instability. Finally, the mafia, the return of Ben Ali’s supporters and an upsurge in violence could all threaten the advent of the new Tunisia.