by Manel Hamdi

The Tunisian stumble path toward democracy began after the popular revolt against Ben Ali’s regime. Having its first free elections in October 2011, Tunisia believed that the dream of becoming the first democracy in the MENA region could be fulfilled. However, this dream was postponed after the failure of the Troika government (the coalition of Ennahda, an Islamist party and two other secularist parties) in pursuing the goals of the revolution. Indeed, many agree on the fact that Ennahda party ran a messy government, which came under fire for perceived mishandling of the economy and lenience towards radical Islamist groups.

Furthermore, the escalation of violence by Islamist militants–which led to the assassination of two prominent opposition leaders and tens of national guards and soldiers–created a growing distrust in government. People are no longer enthusiastic about elections, as many believe that political battles are only a distraction from more pressing issues, such as poverty, unemployment and the sense of injustice that fuelled the revolution.

All this explains why many Tunisians are boycotting the coming elections. Indeed, Tunisia’s parliament agreed to hold parliamentary elections on October 26 and a presidential poll a month later. The polls will be the first since Tunisia adopted the new constitution this year.

Elections commission chief Sarsar said last month that the new electoral law would assure a free and fair vote, with more than 1,000 international observersinvited to monitor.This could help to restore investor confidence in the slumping Tunisian economy, which ishighly dependent on foreign tourism for revenue.

In this context, the AIC in partnership with OVC and four other local NGOs from South Tunisia are launching training courses Advocacy campaign with MEPI support to encourage youth and women, who are already registered in 2011 to vote in the coming elections. This program is called “Citizenship Academy : A Coalition for Tunisia.”

Stayed tuned to AIC’s website for updates on this program.