Written by Piero Messina
There is no more bread in Tunisia. The reforms promised by President Kais Saied did not bring any benefit to the population. For over a year Saied has centralized all powers, dissolved parliament, formed a government that responds directly to his wishes and, lastly, dissolved the High Council of the Judiciary, replacing the body in charge of the organization of Justice with a provisional advice.
With a terrible economic crisis and a social split caused by the substantial ban of the Islamic party Ennadha, the Saied regime can only hope for aid from the International Monetary Fund and from its long-time ally: France.
History teaches that Tunisians can take everything away. But when bread is scarce, even a meek people like that of the land of jasmine are ready to make a revolution.
Due to a crisis similar to the one the country is experiencing today, at the end of 1983, the presidency of the founder of modern Tunisia Habib Bourghiba began to waver. It was the end of 1983 and due to the rise in the price of bread, riots broke out across the nation. During the clashes, which involved the whole country, at least 80 people died, while the damage caused by looting, fires, thefts to public and private buildings exceed the value of the current 400 million euros. Bourghiba ordered a ferocious repression and thousands of people were arrested.
From that moment began the decline that in the space of three years led to the coup d’état of Zinedine Ben Ali, the soldier who ruled Tunisia from 1987 to 2011. Also in 2011, the year of the Arab springs, the protest in the streets was caused by the unsustainable increase in the price of bread. At the end of 2010, the first protests began in Sidi Bouzid, which culminated two months later in the overthrow of the Ben Ali presidency. Eleven years later, the risk of a protest is again high. The first demonstrations start from Sidi Bouzid, the city symbol of the 2011 revolution. In Sidi Bouzid, bread is scarce, which has become almost impossible to find due to a law introduced by the government that aims to subsidize the price of flour, causing a block to trade and at the birth of an illegal market.
In these days the International Monetary Fund is planning a mission to Tunisia to understand if it is possible to grant other loans to the North African country. To give the green light to a monetary support program, the IMF calls for a cut in public costs and a higher tax burden. Two unsustainable maneuvers for the fragile Tunisian economy which largely depends on the public sector. President Saied was considered, at the time of his election, the last barrier against corruption and bad governance. But it turned Tunisia into a semi-dictatorial regime. In the outskirts of the country, anti-government sentiment is growing again and the pro-Islamist instances of the Ennadha party are strengthened, a movement that Saied, with the control of the judiciary, wants to outlaw.