TUNISIA JASMINE REVOLUTION
Author: Elisa Mariani
Translated by Martina Paoli
THE JASMINE REVOLUTION IN TUNISIA: FIVE YEARS LATER
Five years after the Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia still has to face many challenges. Governed by Bèji Caïd Essebsi, it is considered as a successful leading example, which inspired the Arab Spring, thanks to the remarkable changes adopted by the new social democratic government.
The Zine El Abidine Ben Ali absolutism overthrow has been strongly endorsed by population, especially young people, protesting for different reasons (poverty, regional discrepancy, unemployment, dictatorship) and has resulted in the draft of a new progressive constitution.
It focuses on the restoration of some of the most important human rights, including freedom of religion, speech, conscience, strike, and gender equality between men and women concerning the attribution of institutional offices and issues related to inheritance.
Nevertheless, the current government has not fulfilled its promises, since there has not occurred a real economic development after this social-political progress. For this reason, today as five years ago, citizens of Tunisia take to the streets to request new economic reforms.
The most worrying indicator is the unemployment rate, which stood at 15.4% in April 2016, against a 13% measured between October 2010 and January 2011. Therefore, a 2.4% more in comparison with the period in which there were the first signs of the Jasmine Revolution. These data are even more alarming if we consider that the 55% of Tunisians are under 25 years of age.
However, at the beginning of 2016 the Tunisian Solidarity Bank approved many loan applications and projects, which will permit creating more than 14,720 jobs. Moreover, according to recent estimates, currently the GDP amounts to 44.6 billion US dollars, against 47.3 estimated in 2014 and 45.2 of 2015, underlining a clear decrease.
Another significant parameter is the increase in the public debt, from 24.6 billion US dollars in 2012 to 28.4 billion US dollars in 2016. The companies’ competitiveness index is 3.93% in 2016, against 4.49% of 2010.
A modest improvement relating to the ease of doing business index took place in 2015 (74), with respect to 2014 (75). The lowest Tunisian value was estimated in 2010 (40). There has been an increase in the private consumption, from +3.7 in 2013 to +4.4 in 2016.
Because of the decrease in the main economic indexes, the government of Tunisia is working to realise the Development Plan 2016-2020. This strategy includes a number of reforms aimed at creating additional jobs and intensifying the struggle against poverty.
In fact, economic interventions relating to urban infrastructures and incentives for industry and green economy are expected to be done. They require an investment of 50 billion euro, which is possible thanks to the exploitation of local resources and the private contributions. The final aim of this policy is to reach an increase of 4% in the annual GDP.
The most profitable sectors of the country are service industry and manufacturing, which represent a large part of GDP (respectively 61.2% and 29% of the GDP, according to 2015 estimates). Tunisia boasts a great exportation of agricultural products.
Tourism gives a wide contribution in the job creation and is a fundamental activity for the economic welfare of the country. Regarding the commercial relations with foreign countries, Italy plays a very important role, as it is one of the principal Tunisian allies. In 2015, Italy’s export to Tunisia amounted to €3,033 million, while import from Tunisia amounted to €2,300 million.