The moderate Islamist Ennahda party has raised to the fore of October 23 elections, the first democratically held election in Tunisia’s history. Ennahda selected their Secretary General Hamadi Jebali as the country’s next Prime Minister.
At the age of 62, Jebali has been both an engineer and a journalist, helped to co-found Ennahda, and served a 16 year prison sentence for his outspoken criticism of the former regime headed by Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Ben Ali had controlled Tunisia for 23 years when he was ousted during the early phase of the “Arab Spring” which hit Tunisia first and then proliferated to neighboring North African and Middle Eastern countries.
The new government has made it clear that it is focused on dealing with pertinent issues of rebuilding the country and fighting poverty. In order to do so, liberal social and economic policies are to be implemented to attract regional and foreign investment. Further, the tourist industry is poised to play a major role in newly reformed Tunisia.
Tunisia’s largest secular party, the Congress for the Republic (CPR) had successful negotiations with Ennahda and supported them for their moderate Islamism. In order to encourage tourism at Tunisia’s beaches and demonstrate his moderate stance, Jebali has asserted that there will not be a “bikini ban,” and anything to “handicap tourism…cannot be touched.”
As a result of successful elections, many are accepting the new Tunisia as a success story for the “Arab Spring,” which managed to topple Ben Ali and ten months later establish a new and moderate government.