And the winner is: October 23rd! Congratulations.
Hi folks, I hope you are all getting ready for a beautiful and safe summer, but unfortunately I have to once again write about the Tunisian election date. Yes, the issue that will not go away. This story is starting to sound more like a wedding than an election. Yes, we have to commend the Tunisian people for their extraordinary efforts and bravery as they so eloquently reminded us that power is truly of and for the people, but we can now safely say that there are those who are having cold feet for their future husband…Democracy.
On Monday June 6th, Reuters published a very interesting article entitled: ‘Tunisian party fears violence if election delayed‘. The article focused on Mr. Rached Ghannouchi’s (leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement), analysis on the possible option of delaying the elections until October 16th. Apparently October 16th was not written in stone.
Back to the wedding analogy. According to wedding expert Nina Callaway, “a general sense of nervousness about a wedding is normal”, but what’s important is that we know the difference between cold feet and a serious problem. She tells couples that if they are “only going through with it because they will be too embarrassed to call it off”, they should probably rethink the whole marriage.
Mr. Rached Ghannouchi warned that the postponement or cancellation of such elections “may drag the country into a spiral of violence”. Additionally he stated that his party had”real misgivings that those who have decided to postpone the date of the first election can do it for a second time”…cold feet or signs of serious problems? You be the judge….
Reading Between the Lines
As the leader of the well-organized Islamist Ennahda movement, Ghannouchi’s words deserve further examination. His statement that his party had heard of “possible plans to delay or cancel the election for an assembly that would draw up a constitution”, is very interesting and highlights a growing sense of distrust toward the current government caretakers among not only the main political parties but also the Tunisian people in general. History teaches us that distrust is the cancer that eats away at any hope for democratic change and it is also the great accelerator of chaos and instability.
The Verdict Please
Finally, today June 8th, Prime Minister Beji Caid Sebsi announced that Tunisia’s election will be held on October 23, a delay of a further week to ensure it can be “free and transparent”. From a risk management perspective this is not good news for (3) main reasons:
1. One of the most organized and popular political party has already publicly stated that they are suspicious and frustrated over the October 16th date. If anything today’ news will only increase their suspicion and frustration.
2. The date has now been changed at least 4 times officially. This trend undermines the credibility of the interim government and may embolden other shall we say less positive groups to take action.
3. On an economic front there are several reasons why the date change will have a mostly negative effect ranging from tourism to foreign investment.
The change of date coupled with Mr. Rached Ghannouchi’s comments promises to make this summer very interesting. Let us hope that the beautiful blue skies and smell of jasmine inspire the Tunisian people to continue on their path and not call off the weeding.