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IRI Poll Provides Insight Into Tunisia's Transition
A new public opinion poll released by the International Republican Institute (IRI) shows rising dissatisfaction among Tunisians, two years after the January 2011 revolution. IRI has conducted eight national surveys in the country since the end of Ben Ali’s rule and the beginning of Tunisia’s transition to democracy.
The survey was conducted before the murder of opposition leader Chokri Belaid on February 6, an event that drew widespread demonstrations and led to the resignation of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali on February 21. But even before these developments, Tunisians were increasingly dissatisfied with the direction of the country. IRI’s poll showed 77 percent of those surveyed believed Tunisia was moving in the wrong direction, the highest level recorded in the Institute’s two years of research. Respondents cited economic concerns as their top priority, but the survey also found increasing concern over security issues.
While the survey shows Tunisians believe the country should move from the current transitional phase to a new constitution and fresh elections, a steady majority continues to support democracy as the best path for the country. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said they would choose a democratic government, even if it led to an unstable and insecure Tunisia, versus 42 percent who preferred a stable and prosperous Tunisia under a non-democratic government.
Tunisia’s transition experience mirrors those of earlier transitions from authoritarianism to democracy. Voters’ expectations for economic and personal security are high and there is often frustration over interim governments’ inability to solve day-to-day problems. But we can take encouragement that despite rising concerns over the economy, a majority of Tunisians continue to support their country’s transition to democracy. And just as Tunisia’s successful revolution began the Arab Spring and inspired similar movements across the Middle East and North Africa, a successful transition to democracy can also serve as a powerful example for its neighbors.
Learn more about the poll here.
This post was written by Lindsay Lloyd, Program Director of the Freedom Collection.
Lindsay Lloyd is the Bradford M. Freeman Director of the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, where he manages original research and programmatic efforts to advance freedom and democracy in the world. This includes the work of the Freedom in North Korea project, which raises awareness of human rights violations in North Korea, proposes new policy solutions, and engages leaders to help improve the lives of the North Korean people; the Freedom and Democracy project, which seeks to support U.S. leadership in the world and reenergize our democracy at home; and the Liberty and Leadership Program, which works to equip emerging young leaders in Burma with the skills and knowledge they need to help guide their country’s democratic transition. Lindsay also oversees the Institute’s North Korea Freedom Scholarship, which provides financial and other support for North Korean refugees and their children to pursue higher education.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Lindsay served for 16 years at the International Republican Institute (IRI), most recently as senior advisor for policy. Previously, he was IRI’s regional director for Europe and co-director of the regional program for Central and Eastern Europe, which was based in Slovakia. At IRI, Lindsay worked with candidates, elected officials, political parties, and civil society activists to develop lasting democratic institutions.
Before joining IRI, Lindsay worked for several members and the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, as political director for a political action committee, and for Jack Kemp’s 1988 presidential campaign. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.Full Bio
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