Today’s parliamentary session marked Tunisia’s third vote of confidence in less than a year.
Rabat – Tunisia is welcoming a new government after the technocrat cabinet of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi survived a vote of confidence. Mechichi’s cabinet of outsiders and apolitical experts faced a tough challenge on September 1 as Tunisia’s divided political parties weighed approval.
Tunisia will have a new government following the third confidence vote in less than a year. Political divisions and scandals marked a tumultuous year and citizens will likely be relieved to see that Mechichi has produced a functioning administration.
Mechichi opened the sitting of parliament by officially proposing his plans for the apolitical cabinet, facing his first and possibly largest political obstacle as head of state. Mechichi promised to reform public spending and revive oil and phosphate production.
Parliamentarian Said Jaziri told Shems FM that he opposed Mechichi’s cabinet as the night progressed prior to the vote. He claimed Mechichi was a mere extension of President Saied and could not be trusted to act independently.
Ennahda parliamentarian Abdullah Al-Huraizy stated that not confirming the cabinet would amount to “going into the unknown.” Al-Huraizy thought the government’s priority should be to “preserve social peace.” Hsouna Nasfi of the Al Islah bloc told Tunis Numerique that Mechichi’s speech to parliament was “coherent and convincing.”
Many political parties felt sidelined by Mechichi’s choice to circumvent Tunisia’s fractured politics by selecting a cabinet of outside technocrats.
Ahead of the vote the largest political party in Tunisia, Ennahda, announced it would support Mechichi’s government “with reservations.” However, on the day of the vote, Ennahda MP Sahbi Atig accused Hichem Mechichi of “behaving like a head of government and not a prime minister” in an interview on Shems FM.
In the end it appears parliament was guided by a need for a government in times of pandemic and economic instability. By passing the vote of confidence, Tunisia’s divided political parties have committed to a new government.
Hichem Mechichi was selected by President Saied to form a new government after former Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh became ensnared in a scandal. Ennahda pushed Fakhfakh to resign after several conflicts of interest came to light.
Mired in scandal and political intransigence, Tunisians will hope that a new government can settle the current political imbalance.