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Index / Political situation /
Open map of TunisiaFlag of TunisiaTunisia /
Political situation

Hussein 1 1705-1735
Ali 1 1735-1757
Muhammed 1 1757-1759
Ali 2 1759-1782
Hammuda 1782-1814
Mahmud 1814-1824
Hussein 2 1824-1835
Mustafa 1 1835-1837
Ahmed 1 1837-1855
Muhammed 2 1855-1859
Muhammed 3 1859-1882
Ali 3 1882-1902
Muhammed 4 1902-1906
Muhammed 5 1906-1922
Muhammed 6 1922-1929
Ahmed 2 1929-1942
Muhammed 7 1942-1943
Muhammed 8 1943-1957
Habib Bourguiba 1957-1987
Zine el Abidine Ben Ali 1987-2011
Fouad Mebazaa 2011-

Tunisia is perhaps the most stable country in Africa. Even if the political leadership have promised reforms, Tunisia has not yet reached further than becoming a semi-democracy. There are some political parties, but these always have to be sanctioned by the government. Tunisia has a fair amount of freedom of speech.
In the middle of the 1980s Islamism was far stronger in Tunisia than in neighbouring Algeria. The period 1986-1992 was dominated by the governments fight against the country's not very violent Islamists, still it may be argued that their low level of violence was a result of successful action from the government. Even today, it is most likely that the Islamists are still working undercover. What makes Islamism weak, and not a true factor in the future, is the fact that very few Tunisians feel provoked by Ben Ali's politics.
There is an official process leading towards democracy, but the pace has been slow, and there is good reason to believe that Ben Ali is not planning normal democracy and freedom of speech as something coming up within the next few years.
In November 2001, a process many believe will lead to necessary constitutional changes allowing Ben Ali to be president for life, was begun. In 2002 the maximum age for a president was raised from 70 to 75 years, and a removal of the restriction as to how many times a president can be reelected.
Tunisian censorship is still very much in action, and recent years has seen heavy media control, especially with critical web sites. Several of these have been blocked for Tunisian web surfers.
Human rights activists, some political dissidents, but mainly central Islamists remain in prison. Tunisian has an estimated 500 political prisoners (Human Rights Watch, July 2004).

Tunisia / Political / 2009 Presidential & Legislative elections

By Tore Kjeilen