Tunisia's Popular Front has eaten itself

Tunisia's Popular Front has eaten itself
Once Tunisia's main opposition, the left-wing Popular Front has allowed the re-emergence of the old regime in its attempts to curtail Ennhadha - so much so that it now backs former Ben Ali stooge Beji Caid Essebsi for president.
3 min read
19 Dec, 2014
Hamma Hammami's Popular Front has not taken advantage of its position [AFP]

They oppose corruption and tyranny but do not want Moncef Marzouki to win the presidential election. So what does the Popular Front, once Tunisia's main opposition force, actually stand for anymore?

One would believe the left-wing party's anti-corruption platform would lead it to oppose the election of Marzouki's rival, Beji Caid Essebsi, a figure from the old regime. But a statement issued last week actually indicated its support.

This position appears to be part of a long-running campaign to curtail the power of the Islamist Ennahdha movement. But it strengthens the hand of Essebsi's party, Nidaa Tounes, which the Front openly admits is stuffed with old regime figures.

The left-wing tragedy

One must ask: has the struggle against Islamists reached such an extreme that we would allow the return of the old regime?

This is perhaps one of the tragedies of the left wing of Tunisian politics, and can be seen throughout recent history: The Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties, known by its French acronym, FDTL, strived to form an alliance with Ennahdha years before the revolution against dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

This accord was doomed from the start - seeking to topple Ben Ali was not enough reason to form an alliance with Islamists. No matter how much they talk about democracy, Islamists do not seriously believe in it.

And in modern times, the Popular Front has fallen by the wayside because of its attempts to topple Ennhadha. The forming of the National Salvation Front with Nidaa Tounes before the last election gave Essebsi's party the springboard to reach power ahead of the Islamists.

As a result, the Popular Front now accepts it plays a supporting role to Nidaa Tounes.

Rising anger

But even this tactic will not secure the Popular Front's aims. The ruling mafia, represented by Ennahdha and Nidaa Tounes, are forced by their circumstances to form an alliance in the face of an increasingly disgruntled population.

The ruling mafia is more aware than the Popular Front that the population will revolt once more - therefore it is imperative that they unite.

The main elements missing from the calculations of the FDTL and the Popular Front are the people who are being grinded down by continuous market-liberal policies. That is why the voter turnout in recent parliamentary elections was so weak, especially among the youth of Tunisia - the effective majority in the political struggle.

The anger among the youth is building, and it will explode in another revolution, and not through the ballot boxes.

The left wing does not pay attention to anything other than political formations. Revolutions are started by the people, and the left has not used them at all.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.