Hechmi Hamdi, founder of The Popular Petition for Freedom, Justice, and Development (Al Aridha Chaabia) – a political movement and electoral list that won 26 seats in National Constituent Assembly – has been elected on Saturday February 4th as Secretary General of the Party of Progressive Conservatives (PPC) after the resignation of its former Secretary General, Hadhri Mahmoud, due to health-related issues.
“Dr. Hechmi Hamdi won an overwhelming majority in the election of PPC’s political board,” declared Ibrahim Kassas, a prominent figure within the Popular Petition and a member of the Constituent Assembly.
The PPC, which was licensed as a political party on July 15th, 2011, is part of an initiative started by the Popular Petition. “The popular petition is a popular movement and an electoral list that participated in the election. We created this party as a legal umbrella for our supporters and activists and also for future rallies and meetings,” explained Hamdi.
Hamdi, currently residing in London, stated that this party has, “exactly the same program,” as the Popular Petition. The organization’s platform encompasses three main pillars: founding a democratic constitution, adopting a free health care system, and providing grants to the unemployed.
In spite of the two seemingly incongruous notions – conservatism and progressivism – expressed in the title of the party, Hamdi asserted that his organization embodies both of these ideals simultaneously.
“It is conservative because it belongs to the Islamist orientation, advocating for the preservation of the Arab-Muslim identity. It is progressive because it adopts the leftist vision of the welfare state,” explains Hamdi.
“We hope that Tunisian people will find in our party a comfortable leftist solution,” said Hamdi, who asserted that his party is an extension of the same movement that led Tunisia to independence from French colonization. “It is a national social Islamist alternative,” he added.
Though nothing is confirmed, Hamdi announced that the PPC is evaluating the potential for creating coalitions with parties he sees as ideologically compatible – such as the Progressive Democratic Party and Unionist Democratic Union.
“We are still studying the potential alliances. However, the feedback that I received from PPC supporters conveyed that they want to us to run independently for the upcoming election under PPC. They expect a sweeping victory because we are the alternative,” concluded Hamdi.