The recent nomination of Interior Minister Ali Laarayedh by Ennahdha’s decision-making Shura Council for the post of Prime Minister was interpreted by many as a sign that the radicals are asserting dominance over the ruling Islamist party at the expense of the moderates, writes Mohamed Bechri, the former president of Amnesty International’s Tunisian Section. At the same time, the appointment was a challenge to the opposition parties, which regarded Laarayedh as the man who, as interior minister, failed to reform his ministry, prevent human rights violations and excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators, and reign in the Salafi violence.
Ennahdha’s vulnerability should not be understated, Bechri writes for the Fikra Forum. Its secular partners in the ruling troika lost half of their 49 members in the Constituent Assembly due to infighting and resignations. Meanwhile, the political opposition and civil society feel empowered in the aftermath of the murder of leftist leader Chokri Belaid (above). According to a recent opinion poll by 3C Etudes, Belaid’s Popular Front nearly doubled its supporters (from 7% to 12 %). Measured in the same poll, Ennahdha and main secular opposition party, Nidaa Tounes, are now neck and neck in their shares of public support, receiving 29.4% and 29.8%, respectively.
Therefore, it was no surprise that Ennahdha’s “cabinet broadening” project failed miserably as no party outside the troika agreed to accept it. In the end, the ruling coalition had no choice but to surrender its control over the so-called sovereign ministries of Interior, Justice, and Foreign Affairs, a particularly difficult move for Ennahdha’s leadership, making the manipulation of upcoming election results nearly impossible.
Pressure is expected to mount for the remainder of this year, or at least until the parliamentary elections in October or November. Secular opposition forces will likely unify around two separate and somewhat antagonistic blocs: the liberal Nidaa Tounes, which includes remnants of the old regime, and the large progressive leftist Popular Front, which benefited from the assassination of its leader Chokri Belaid, and which may soon absorb the Joumhouri Party and the whole socialist left, including the ex-communists.
As a result, Ennahdha’s rule will be shaken in the coming period, and the loss of their majority status with the coming parliamentary elections is a possibility, even though it is unlikely that it will suffer the kind of collapse that will make it irrelevant in the Tunisian political scene anytime soon.
This is a brief extract from an article at the Fikra Forum.RTWT