Carthage footprint

How to qualify the regime of President Kas Saed since his 2021 coup? To get an idea from within the countrya collective provides an informed and engaging reading of the situation.

In 2011 Tunisia opened the way during the Arab Spring(s), today Carthage is entangled. Among the numerous writings (scientific or journalistic) on Tunisia from 2011 to 2023, I will highlight here The power of one, dealing with after July 25, 2021, the date of a new political turning point in Tunisia. Product ofTunisian Observatory of Democratic Transition (OTTD), A search circle association created in 2011 by a handful of personalities campaigning for democracy and human rights, bringing together 17 authors (political scientists, jurists, sociologists, demographers, economists, journalist), this work presents an originality: that of crossing two registers of writing, that of of knowledge with its rules and that of speaking public under the effect of a ethics of responsibility scientific-social. Knowing in this way what this work is about, what will interest us here is the representation of the national situation produced by this collective of Tunisian intellectuals.

Brief state of play the day before July 25, 2021: a transition is blocked

The power of one is part of a series of deliveries of theOTTDincluding early 2021 Tunisia, the transition is blocked under the direction of H. Redissi and al. (20 authors, same editor). This work took stock of the decade 2011-2021. In his introduction, H. Redissi summarized the main results as follows: 1) We have not gone from transition to consolidation (…). We are also not in a neo-authoritarianism, a hybrid regime born in the wake of poorly successful transitions. (…) In fact the transition is blocked. (…) A regression cannot even be excluded; 2) we attended the emergence of the populist peril which threatens the Tunisian state and the new democracy. Dating back to 2017 (Essebsi presidency) the beginnings ofsiltation of the transitionH. Redissi denounced in 2021 an oligarchy of upstarts indifferent to national interest and at odds with the people concluding that no actor deserves consideration. S. Khalfaoui stigmatized the incompetence of the ruling political class of the last 10 years. According to S. Klibi the Assembly of Representatives of the People (ARP) had become under Essebsi a centrifuge which heavily impacted the results of the 2019 elections. Med Chafik Sarsar pointed out a degradation of the presidential institution with the consequence both under Essebsi and under the first Saed of strong governmental instability. In The power of oneby reducing its focus to the period October 2019/July 2021, S. Klibi describes an unprecedented institutional situation characterized by the inability of Parliament to function due to the fragmentation of political representation within it on the one hand, and on the other hand because of the conflict between the President of the Republic both with the head of government and the President of theARP, the Islamo-Nahdhist R. Ghannouchi. And to conclude that, preferring immobility until the situation deteriorates, rather than exercising its role as mediator and guarantor of the continuity of the stateK. Saied, rich voters, but devoid of party, had practiced obstruction of the functioning of institutions.

How to qualify the coup of July 25, 2021

S. Klibi recounts the moments preceding the coup: On the evening of July 25, 2021, the presidency of the republic transmits live, on its official page of the social network Facebook, a meeting of the president with senior executives of the army and internal security, which he closes with the establishment of the state of exception on the basis of article 80 of the Constitution. With the support of the army and internal security, a constitutional coup? A doubt arose as to the invocation of article 80 relating to a situation of impending danger: are we in this case on July 25, 2021? Borrowing from Latin America, H. Redissi prefers the nomination of a self-coup d’état (autogolpe)a coup of force practiced for his benefit by a head of state in office.

Is July 28, 2021 the December 2, 1851 by K. Saed? Ceasing to be president by abolishing the republic, Louis-Napolon Bonaparte proclaimed himself Emperor. K. Saed did not abolish the Republic, but the 2014 Constitution which had made him president and retained the presidential function. What he did, according to Sana Ben Achour, maintained the moribund Constitution of 2014 on life support in the service of legitimization-prolongation (of its) presidential mandate with the consequence, according to the constitutionalist A. Mahfoudh, once close to Saed, that nothing today allows the president to govern the country. Apart from a fraction of political opponents and jurists, who were concerned about it then? A broad, laconic and progressive public opinion did she like that endorsed the coup of July 25, 2021 on the pretext that it put the Brothers (S. Ben Achour)?

A coup d'état for what project?

In 2021, in Tunisia, the transition is blocked, Z. Krichen recalled that K. Saed had adopted the idea of ​​a break between time insurrectional initial period of marginalized populations (17.12.2010/14.01.2011) and the following time revolutionary controlled by the lites of the Center which during 2011 would have gradually distanced themselves from the people, even betrayed them, hence the electoral program that he drew from it: giving back a political horizon to the popular insurrectional movement and this end reverse the pyramid of representation. Z. Krichen added at the beginning of 2012 that once he became president, K. Saed had abandoned this program. In fact, what followed would show that he had waited to execute it for an opportune moment. In 2023 Z. Krichen maintains that the Saedian project bears the mark ofcouncilist ideology: unable to exercise power collectively, the people must delegate advice to do so through elections in small constituencies where the elected representative will be the almost direct emanation of the voters. The mention of councilism deserved some theoretical references for the uninitiated, especially because of its origin from the left this inspiration seems difficult to reconcile with the conservative profit associated with K. Saed… Or Saed neither right nor left (H. Redissi) …?

A company of de-democratization?

De-democratization is a concept forged by Ch. Tilly, which, with the questioning of the transitological doxa, was taken up by political scientists to analyze on a global scale the populism recent. S. Klibi analyzes in terms of de-democratization the political factory of K. Saed. S. Ben Achour questions for his part THE modus operandi (Saedian) of the overthrow of the constitutional order and the multi-constitutionalitythe country oscillating after July 25, 2021 between (…) constitutional registers, the most unusual of which is the constituent power: by amalgamating borrowings from previous Constitutions (since ancient Carthage, etc.) to establish power in his hand. Result: one unknitting systematics of state institutions (Higher Council of the Judiciary, Independent Higher Authority for Elections, Electoral Code, etc.). Quid character civil of the state of the Constitution of 2014 and thus of Islam? The 2022 Constitution replaces the notion ofrule of law that of the state and society by right. If Islam is not the religion of the state, it is of society. Several authors point to article 5 of the 2022 Constitution, which comes assign exclusively to the state the responsibility for the conservation of the state, property, freedom and religion on the basis of the purposes of Islam. This article constitutes an open door to the introduction of sharia as the foundation of government and thereby as a source of legislation. (H. Shakir). THE caliphate is, according to Asma Nouira, K. Saed’s model of assumed power. Conclusion of S. Klibi: The Constitution of 2022 is that of the revenge of the executive and especially not of the presidency of the republic as an institution, but of a president in a position of predation of power.

Populism without people?

After his presidential election by 18.4% in 1er round and 72.7% in 2d In turn, multiple polls have provided a measure of the reception of K. Saed's policies: lastingly very favorable. A paradoxical distortion, however, appears between these high survey levels of satisfaction and measures of another scale, those coming from consultations to which K. Saed took part. For the preparation of the new constitution, on a few questions, the president requested an electronic consultation: participation was low (534,915 participants according to uncontrollable data); K. Saed attributed this to the undermining of invisible hand of the will of the people (S. Oueschtati). Resulting from a solo marathon (S. Klibi), the new constitutional text was submitted to a referendum: 94.6% of voters approved it, representing only 30% of the electorate. The electionsARP from December 2022 to January 2023 mobilized 11.2% of the overall electorate on 1er turn and 11.4% of the remaining body for candidates on ballot: a stinging disavowal of the regime? According to H. Chekir, we were going from democratic vacuum to political vacuum for the benefit of local lobbies, prevaricators and family and tribal clans

A singular power in a singular situation?

There degradation of the mysticism in politics that Charles Pguy denounced is it a universal iron law? the exercise of power, what place does mysticism of the people like that of K. Saed can it practically do to the people?… At the start of 2023, H. Redissi again concluded for K. Saed a personal power (…) sui generisunpublished and in gestation, in statu nascendi; regarding this same regime in an interview on France culture of October 24, 2023 he spoke of populist terrain the limit of democracy and authoritarianism. Yielding less to the need for an intellectual to express yourself metaphorically so as not to offend public opinion (H. Redissi), S. Ben Achour considered of President Saed thatno limit seems to stop his frantic race towards absolute power. We witnessed the denunciation of a plot against state security by 8 opposition figures (29.12.2022), a policy of intimidation (Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, …) and the arrest of political leaders (around twenty R. Ghannouchi Abir Moussi) , until the sudden dismissal and replacement of the head of government (2.8.2023). On December 24, 2023, local elections were held for rebuild and complete institutions included in the 2022 Constitution: they mobilized 11.8% of registered readers! …

I will end with 2 observations.

1. The work favors the analysis of internal policy on which the citizen is supposed to have taken the difference from the international dimension. However, for a broader understanding, the advent and developments of Saedism must not also be contextually correlated with (possibility by) the vast questioning of order dominant world since the post-Second World War and its foundations: crisis of the model of representative and constitutional democracy even in countries known as old democracy, multiplication of conflict zones (DAESH in Syria and Iraq 2014-2017; chaos in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Ymen, Libya; Russian-Ukrainian war since 2014…), globalization of populism in powereven French downgrading in the Middle East and the Maghreb…? Thus Z. Krichen (2023) notes in passing that K. Saed meditated on yellow vest movement and democratic fatigue in France…

2. If, addressing primarily the Tunisian citizen, it would be wrong to submit the evaluation of this work solely to the yardstick of the vast scientific bibliography produced on Tunisia (and the Arab world) since 2011, thehonest man A foreigner will find there a rich direct access to the words of a part of the Tunisian intelligentsia charged for him with supplementing his enlightenment elsewhere.