“We don’t have faith in politics. Not before, not now. Just show us projects and development, no fancy ideas,” he demands. “We’ll vote for the party of bread.”
After reading Lauren E. Bohn’s article “Tunisia’s Forgotten Revolutionaries,” in Foreign Policy tonight, several questions came to mind:
- How come the citizens of the country wish to vote for the party that simply facilitates the means to ends – if not the ends themselves, as a government should be partially responsible for – yet, almost every single political party in Tunisia (newly formed or otherwise) seems to be campaigning on ideological issues?
- How is it that ideology has emerged as a rallying epicenter, not only for the 90 or so political parties and their partnering ideologues, but also for the citizens?
- Assuming that ideology merits high standing in the realm of developmental importance, why is it that it has not been coupled with any sort of definitive programs?
- Lastly, we all know that ideology does indeed influence any political platform’s practical ability and style – only if the ideology is translated. For example, while PDP waxes poetic about women’s rights, why have no concrete women’s empowerment programs been campaigned on?
The answer to a few of these questions is the simple fact that most political parties in Tunisia currently lack organizational capacity. With close to zero civic activity allowed under the former regime and the political vacuum created post-January 14, who is to blame? Yet, it is pivotal for any party to seriously refocus their efforts to stand a chance. Currently, the political theatre is plagued with misplaced ideological priorities – most debates center, clumsily flounder, and finally crash at the mention of Ennahda’s “real” intentions or PDP’s secret RCD members in drag. Yet, we must awake to the fact that whether or not a cafe serves wine is trivial when contrasted to the livelihoods of everyday Tunisians, the grave underdevelopment of the South, or the right to freely unionize.
At the end of the day, of course, the freedom to express oneself does include the right to choose one’s beverage of choice. But until then, show us some sustainable solutions to help jumpstart the economy. Show us solutions that will open up our trading horizons. Show us solutions that will prevent Chinese MNCs from (again) misusing our resources and taking advantage of our local populations. Show us your solution to the unemployment rate – what will your party tell the young 25-year-olds sitting at the cafe all day?
Show us (and not tell) – are you the party of bread?