This year the end of Ramadan will not only mark the end of fasting but it will also usher in what promises to be an interesting Fall. Starting on September 1, Tunisia will return back to ‘normal’. Shops will resume their regular hours, traffic will regain it’s regular flow, and children will start returning back to school. In many ways the Tunisian and for that matter, the entire so called Arab Spring, has been on pause mode during Ramadan, but in 10 days, for better or worse, the drama will resume.
Recently, The International Republican Institute (IRI) conducted a very revealing public opinion survey. During their fieldwork they found that security and economic concerns remain the top two priorities among Tunisians. According to the report, “internal security was mentioned either first, second or third as the top problem 63 percent of the time.”
We would like to highlight 3 key findings from the survey that we believe will play a major factor in the weeks ahead:
- Enthusiasm for democracy remains high, with 93 percent of respondents indicating they are very likely or somewhat likely to vote in elections…”
- The overwhelming majority (80 percent) said they would prefer a moderately Islamist constituent assembly, while only 14 percent indicated a preference for strongly Islamist parties.
- The survey shows the National Army remains the most trusted institution with 83 percent of respondents stating they trust the army a great deal.
On our part we are going to monitor (2) important events : The Political Campaign Picture and the ongoing Libyan crisis.
The highly respected Carter Center has already deployed (10) “long-term observers to monitor the voter registration process and electoral preparations. ” We will definitely follow the work conducted by the Carter Center, but more importantly we will monitor any signs of political tension such as a major party withdrawing from the election.
Although political parties have remained busy trying to connect with the Tunisian people the official campaign season is from October 1st-21st. As Expats, during this 3 week period and to a lesser extent starting September 1st, we need to be on the look out for:
- Flash Mobs: Unlike traditional and somewhat predictable protests, flash mobs assemble suddenly usually either in reaction to a breaking news item or information obtained spread through social media outlets.
- Implementations of Curfew: As we learned last Spring, curfews can be announced just hours before the actual implementations.
- Avoiding protest hot zones: These hot zones include Downtown Tunis, City Ettadhamen, and parts of La Goulette.
The Libyan Crisis is still wide open and unstable. As recent as Friday, August 19th, Tunisian security forces fought a gun battle with armed men in pick-up trucks near the Libyan border.
Additionally, the border humanitarian situation and the influx of Libyans residing in Tunisia have arguably presented a harder challenge for the Tunisian authorities.
Now is the time…
Now is the time to get to know your neighborhoods and reach out to your neighbors. Now is the time to measure your security comfort level. We’ll plan for all kinds of scenarios and hope that Tunisia will pass this noble test.