09 October 2011 3:33 pm | | 14

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The Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) is a center-left party created in 1983 under the name of the Socialist Progressive Rally (RSP). It was legally recognized on November 13th, 1988, and adopted its current name in June 2001. It is currently headed by Ahmed Néjib Chebbi, with Maya Jribi as Secretary General of the party.

Oppressed during the Ben Ali era, the PDP took part in legislative elections from 1989 to 1999, but boycotted the elections of 2004 and 2009. The two current leaders of the party, Jribi and Chebbi, are well-known for initiating a hunger strike, which was held from September 20th to October 20th, 2007, during the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS).  Asserting political parties’ right to use public space, Jribi and Chebbi began the strike, in part, to gain world exposure of the current situation in Tunisia, as well as to protest against the government’s decision to kick the party out of its headquarters.  As a result of the protest, Ben Ali’s government revoked its decision.

After the January 14th revolution, the party has faced many controversies. It refused the law of political parties’ financing passed on August 4th, did not respect the law regarding the advertising ban that began its implementation on September 12th, and more recently, the party was shaken by a wave of resignations that took place in both Gafsa and Bizerte.

In September, the party also took part in a coalition that called for a referendum to limit the duration of the Constituent Assembly’s mission to six months.

The economic and political program of the party is the following:

Political Program:

The PDP is opting for a a semi-presidential system, in which the President will be elected for a renewable five year term by universal suffrage. The bicameral Parliament will be composed of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, which will represent the various regions of Tunisia. The members of the Parliament would be elected for 5 year terms, and each region would be represented by two men and two women.

Economic Program: 

Here are the main points of the economic program of the PDP:

  • Diversify tourism in Tunisia (such as cultural tourism, medical tourism, golf, and thalassatherapy) and conquer new markets, including India and China
  • Establish a national plan for the development of renewable energies, and expand on the solar plan in order to transform Tunisia into an international platform of production and exports of solar energy
  • Increase the expenses related to research and development to reach 2% of the GDP, instead of the current 1.3%, and prioritize agricultural research
  • Create regional technopoles, industrial zones, and urban poles of development adapted to the specific conditions of each region of Tunisia
  • Increase public investment in infrastructure including highways, railways, harbors, and airports, as well as investment in equipment for the health, education and cultural sectors
As of mid-October, the Facebook page of the PDP has 61,998 fans, and the latest opinion poll shows that among Tunisians who have a preference, the PDP has received 14% of the voting intention for the upcoming Constituent Assembly elections. The party is targeting Tunisia’s upper-class population, and especially citizens of the greater Tunis area.  The PDP and Ettakatol are currently following similar political paths, so they could potentially be considered as direct opponents, or it is possible that they could create an alliance.
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