The Unity Government of Youssef Chahed will either be confirmed or rejected by the Assembly of Peoples’ Representatives later today. Right now, any other outcome than a solid endorsement seems hard to imagine.
What is less predictable is how Tunisia’s new government will differ in substance from many of its predecessors. Many of the challenges facing Tunisia; a struggling economy, mass joblessness, the constant threat of terrorism and the towering external debts the country holds come with no easy solution. These are significant problems, ones which ask very fundamental questions over the future of Tunisia. However, in the past these questions have all too often been answered with grand promises of dramatic solutions that just never materialized.
It’s hardly surprising people are losing faith.
Broken promises, a persistent failure to deliver on your word and plans that get lost forever in development fuel disillusionment. Tunisia first saw how dangerous that kind of disillusionment could be in 2011 and, in case anyone had forgotten, were delivered a painful reminder In January of this year, when mass protests over the chronic long term unemployment that plagues the country’s graduates threatened a second one.
For Tunisia’s unemployment crisis, like so much else, we need to accept that there is no immediate solution. However, there is the opportunity for long term incremental remedies that will provide long term, substantial solutions. It begins with promises and this is where the new Unity Government has the opportunity to break with its predecessors. Instead of promising to solve the unemployment crisis, promise to build a road. Then, and this is critical, be seen to build that road. Roads connect people. They allow workers to go to work. They transport goods and, eventually they attract investment, the possibility of industry and, ultimately, jobs.
We can’t pretend that simply improving the infrastructure is going to solve Tunisia’s employment crisis, just as increasing agricultural exports won’t fix the economic one. Problems of this scale rarely come with one simple, single solution. However, like so much else it’s a small, realistic step towards alleviating the problem and, more importantly, it may help instill faith in a government that, this time, stands to deliver on its promises.