Nine months after the revolution of January 14th, Tunisia is back in the spotlight. International media has returned to the country and not just to rest after their hectic missions to Libya during the revolution. They are here to cover the electoral campaign and the elections on October 23rd. These elections are in place to elect the members of a Constituent Assembly that will draft a new constitution for the country.
BBC World News’s anchor Tim Sebastian is particularly interested in making the elections the topic of an upcoming Arab Debate. The Arab Debate is the successor of Doha Debates, which was a forum for free speech in Qatar where the audience gets to dispute controversial statements announced by a mediator. The first post-revolution Doha Debate was held in the institute of le-Patrimoine in the Kasbah in Tunis on February 22nd, where the audience discussed whether the Arab spring could produce new dictators. At that time, 70% agreed with the thesis.
Tunisian bloggers and civic society activists came to meet Tim Sebastian at a pub in downtown Tunis. Yassine Ayari, a well-known Tunisian blogger and independent candidate, also came to the small meeting with BBC journalists to share his opinion about the electoral process. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ideas for a thesis to debate.
Tim Sebastian had many questions to give to the attendees, who were also eager to share their experience of political change in the country and their expectations from the election.
The bloggers all seemed to share the same opinions about particular subjects, such as Tunisia’s importance to the Arab Spring , which begun in Tunisia. The bloggers were unanimous, though, to say that though they follow closely what is currently happening in neighboring and other Arab countries such as Libya, Bahrain and Syria, they are not particularly communicating with other bloggers in these countries.
Another unanimous answer was that, even most bloggers try hard to incorporate themselves into the Arab Spring movement, countries such as Syria, Bahrain and Yemen remain “foreign” for them.
When Sebastian raised the issue of the elections and electoral campaigning, different opinions burst out. A blogger explained firmly that she was only interested to report the information and keep an eye open on the candidates, and not get involved. Another civic society activist said that she was interested in observing the elections.
Yassine Ayari, who is fully invested in campaigning for the elections at the moment, spoke about the electoral campaign of his party and how they are traveling across Tunisia to listen to people and listen to their problems instead of indoctrinating them with their rhetoric.
Sebastian was also particularly interested in the rise of Islamic parties in the country after the revolution and how the citizens might react to that. The group seemed to come together, once again, on another idea and it was that everyone in the country is willing to accept democracy with all of its potential outcomes.