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Paige Fusco

Can a dictator make democracy work for Tunisia?

The birthplace of the Arab Spring and the only country to emerge from it as a democracy — albeit an imperfect one — is now well on its way to becoming something … different.

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Protesters rally agains the constitutional referendum in Tunis.

Mahjoub Yassine/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

What We're Watching: Tunisian referendum, Lavrov on African tour

Tunisia holds constitutional referendum

Tunisians go to the polls Monday to vote in a referendum over the new constitution pushed by President Kais Saied. The vote is scheduled on the first anniversary of Saied sacking the government and suspending parliament in the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring. At the time, he justified the move as necessary to prevent a bigger crisis, but his opponents called it a coup; since then, Saied has consolidated power by taking it away from any institution or group that challenged him, including judges and trade unions. The president's growing dictator vibes have upset many Tunisians who initially supported him, but he still has fans among younger people tired of corruption and dysfunctional parliamentary politics. Most opposition groups have boycotted the plebiscite, so the "yes" vote is likely to win (albeit with a low turnout). If the new charter is approved, Saied promises to hold legislative elections within six months. But they'll be less decisive under the revised constitution, which vastly expands presidential power at the expense of parliament and the judiciary.

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British PM Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for PMQs at the House of Commons on February 02, 2022 in London, England.

Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto

What We’re Watching: Boris no-confidence vote looms, Robocop vs Tunisian judges

Getting to 54. Boris Johnson is the famous comeback kid of British politics. But he may be running out of options given his myriad scandals. A wave of high-profile resignations and defections within the Conservative Party and the departure of five senior staffers have increased the likelihood that the embattled PM will soon face a no-confidence vote. Tory MPs who’ve soured on Johnson believe they are only a dozen signed letters away from the 54 needed to trigger the process as early as this week. Meanwhile, there’s growing pressure to release an unredacted version of the Gray Report about multiple parties held at 10 Downing Street during COVID lockdowns. If the full report confirms Johnson lied to parliament about attending one of the parties, expect a lot more than 54 votes to give him a pink slip.

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Jess Frampton

How long will COVID-fueled inflation last?

Everybody's talking about inflation these days. Rising prices are affecting people from all walks of life, all around the world.

In the US, buying a used car now costs on average 45 percent more than it did in January. Europeans are bracing for a tough winter with soaring natural gas prices that come at the worst possible time.

Asian investors mentioned the word "inflation" on calls this quarter the most times since 2003, when the SARS epidemic battered China's economy. In Lebanon, whose annual rate of inflation is now the world's highest, surpassing Venezuela and Zimbabwe, most people buy local not to support local businesses but rather because they can't afford imports.

Inflation, however, isn't always bad, and is actually a sign of a healthy economy as long as it stays around an annual 1.5-2 percent. But now in most countries it's creeping up too much due to the economic fallout from the ongoing pandemic.

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COVID Vaccine Mandates are Coming | Political Instability in Tunisia | World In :60s | GZERO Media

COVID vaccine mandates are coming; political instability in Tunisia

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

As COVID-19 cases rise, are vaccine mandates coming?

Oh, you just want to get me in more trouble. Yeah, some mandates are coming, but they're not national mandates in the United States. In some cases, you're looking at federal and state employees, in some cases you're looking at lots of individual corporations, universities, and such. I mean I've already been to a number of events where vaccines have been mandated in New York. You've got this Excelsior Pass if you want to go to the Brooklyn Nets games, as I certainly do. You show it off and that gets you in with your vaccine. So I think it's really going to be a decentralized process. But clearly, given Delta variant and the number of people that are getting sick and dying because they're not vaccinated, you're going to see moves towards more mandates, as a consequence.

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People celebrate in the Avenue Habib Bourguiba after Tunisian President Kais Saied announced to assume executive authority in addition to suspending parliament and Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi's government in Tunis, Tunisia on July 25, 2021.

Nicolas Fauque/Images De Tunisie/ABACAPRESS.COM

The only Arab Spring success story on the brink

Tunisia, the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring, is now in the middle of its worst political crisis since it got rid of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over a decade ago.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, President Kais Saied responded to widespread protests over the ailing economy and COVID by firing embattled Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending parliament for 30 days. Troops have surrounded the legislature, where rival crowds faced off on Monday, with one side chanting in support of the move and the other denouncing it as a coup.

How did we get here, do we even know who's really in charge, and what might come next?

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