The Free Patriotic Union (known by its French ackonym, UPL)was created by Slim Riahi, a 39 year old businessman, on January 2011, and obtained its legal authorization on June 2011.
Riahi was based in Libya during his childhood as his father was a political opponent to Bourguiba. He pursued his studies in Libya and London, and created a holding company with investments in the petroleum industry and real estate.
The party appeared on the national scene thanks to a huge advertising campaign with the slogan “Tawa”, which means now.
The UPL’s platform is based on 14 spots related to politics, economics and Tunisian society.
In politics, the party is calling for national reconciliation, but the law should be applied against those who committed crimes against their country. The UPL supports a semi-presidential system, in which the president has limited prerogatives and the prime minister is chosen by the majority in the parliament.
The head of the party stated that the references of his party are the Tunisian reformist leaders such as Kheïreddine Bacha, Tahar Haddad, Habib Bourguiba, Salah Ben Youssef, Farhat Hached and the martyrs of the revolution of January 14th. The UPL considers itself as the direct opponent to Ennahdha party.
On economics, the party supports a free market economy that encourages private investment while ensuring social justice and prioritizing job creation. Their “Karama Plan” is aiming to create 525,000 jobs between 2012 and 2016 and achieve 7% annual growth in GPD. Afterwards the party aims at 10% growth and the creation of 725,000 additional jobs.
The party also believes that the debt load should not go beyond 50% and the budget deficit should be 3% of the GDP. The UPL is also calling for a general fiscal amnesty and a total convertibility of the Tunisian Dinar on 2016.
Concerning banking, banks should preserve 20% of its incomes to the development of interior regions.
The party is considered to be controversial as it appeared suddenly on the Tunisian political stage. Some persons, including Moncef Marzouki, want to know the sources of UPL funding. The profile of UPL voters is not very clear, but the UPL is seemingly making considerable efforts to buy lower class voters. The Facebook page of the group has 34,344 fans, and an opinion poll published by Hanns-Seidel, a German Institute, shows that among the voters who have a preference, 3% are intending to vote for the UPL.