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Essebsi’s death leaves Tunisia elections in limbo

Monday, July 29, 2019

Significance

As prime minister and later president, Essebsi played an important role in the early stages of Tunisia’s peaceful transition to democracy, but failed to deliver any real programme to transform the country’s ailing economy. He leaves behind a country which has shown resilience in the face of many domestic and regional challenges, but in which political infighting and a lack of economic progress means trust in the political class is low. Essebsi’s death so close to an election he had promised not to contest means the Tunisian state was already prepared for a transition.

Impacts

  • Signing the electoral law will open the political class up to criticism that it is self-serving.
  • Not signing the law could see a candidate under investigation for money-laundering win the presidency.
  • Essebsi's Nidaa Tounes party has largely collapsed thanks to infighting, and is unlikely to do well in the parliamentary elections.
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