By Ahlem Hachicha Shaker*
*Activist and political analyst
What choices are available to political actors and parties?
Will you stand for election in December? Preparation for the (possible) presidential election? make soil? Shut up and wait?
The political parties have been caught in a mad whirlwind since January 2011. More elections, internal crises, national crises, issues to be decided, choices to be made, governments coming and going, the political violence, terrorism, international issues etc. . Enough to exhaust the strongest parties.
Add to this that the parties were often fragile, without foundation, volatile and impersonal. The lack of public funds made parties appreciate (albeit often quite complacent from the start) money, dirty money, bad money, packaged money, money from abroad.
And what could have been an opportunity ended up being a burden: international attention. International public opinion has been seduced by the idea of a nascent democracy, of being able to shape it as it pleases, of helping to “change the course of history”. Every government, every organization, every institution, every (pseudo)leader, they all came into it with their miracle recipes, their projects, their ideas, their goals. Funding, conflicting interests, excessive attention, overexposure, the pressure of the performance obligation, all these were difficult to manage and endure.
Are the parties victims in this situation? None. Guilty. And all the evidence is there. Some more and some less. But all guilty. They played the money game, they took the easy way out, they tolerated corruption, they nurtured mediocrity, they were afraid to stand up for good causes, they succumbed to the lure of power. And haven’t done their homework.
In fact, a political party has homework to do, just like a student. There is a necessary learning process for any political party, external and internal learning. Learning about structuring, organization, reflection, political content, ideological construction, fieldwork, positioning, interaction with actors and stakeholders at local, regional, national and international level. Learning technical files, notions of public order, developing an internal elite, arbitration, establishing a political identity.
This work has not been done.
We ended up with a giant with feet of clay. A political scene where the parties were satisfied in the hundreds, but without an actual concrete, lasting offer.
At the first gust of wind this whole fine collection of thatched houses crumbled to dust. The very absence of this political work meant that these parties did not know which foot to dance on July 25, 2021. Was condemnation necessary? Should we rejoice in seeing a political opponent whom we could not defeat at the polls crushed by force? Should we shut up and wait for a better opportunity? Was it necessary to swear allegiance to the new power? The wind created wind. Nothing at all.
And the way was clear.
What to do today? Just complain? Saving ? Go to the end of things? Play the game ? Become a bagpipe player?
What if we finally took the time? The time to settle down, think, build, work, listen, write, change repertoire, put together a team? And above all clean up, in the ideas, in the followers, in the leaders.
Tunisia needs a future. The future is not built with the ideas of the early 20th centuryth century. We remember our history, we learn from it, we recognize the work of those who deserve it, we have the courage to admit mistakes, and we move forward. Ideas from the 21st centuryth century, for people in the 21stth century.
And it cannot be done with the same people who have rotted our lives in parties, in positions of public responsibility, in the media, in cabinets, in NGOs. A clean shot. A refreshment. Sometimes you can be a good person and still have to go. A person who holds the same position in a political party for ten years, that is two generations that we crush, that we cramp and that we end up losing. Make the way.
Come on, I’ll give you a homework assignment to get you started. Choose a national issue without immediate stakes. Put your teams on it. Understand the problem, read, listen, compare, find solutions. Are these solutions concrete, applicable in Tunisia? Will they improve the lives of Tunisians? Otherwise, start over. Because that is the goal, to improve people’s lives. It’s not to prove you’re right, to reinvent the wheel, to defend a doctrine.
Along the way you will discover the quality of the team around you, you will discover skills that will enrich your parties, you will build your identity/ideology step by step, you will set up an internal work process, you will discover the reality facing many of our fellow citizens, you will have concrete things to propose, things that will influence voters and hold their attention.
Start again with a different folder. And replicate this process at the regional level.
Set yourself a period of your choice. There is nothing to pick up right away. Be the party that can survive, develop, grow stronger over five, ten and twenty years.
Let the wave pass. Stay true to the true values and never hesitate to express it. And work, work.