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In Tunisia, the "identity crisis" of the Islamists of Ennahda


The presidential and legislative polls of September and October constitute a sensitive test for the Islamo-conservative party engaged in a painful doctrinal aggiornamento.

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Electoral poster of Abdelfattah Mourou, candidate of Ennadha in the presidential election, in Tunis, on September 2nd. ZOUBEIR SOUISSI / REUTERS

Analysis. By small keys, the words change. The lexicology of Ennahda, the Tunisian party from the Islamist matrix, says a lot about a change in progress whose stake - the future of political Islam - far exceeds the borders of Tunisia. When Abdelfattah Mourou, the candidate of Ennahda in the presidential election, whose first round will take place on September 15, confesses, during a meeting with foreign correspondents in Tunis, he wants to requalify his political family in "conservative party" , without a particular religious reference associated with the label, the gesture is not insignificant.

It reflects an aggiornamento that deepens year after year under the pressure of a national and regional environment, less favorable to political Islam than were the immediate aftermath of the "Arab Spring" of 2011 In Tunisia, Ennahda's continued participation in power since the revolution - as a majority (2012-2013) or minority (2015-2019) partner of government coalitions - has accused this propensity for pragmatism.

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But the price to pay is heavy: "an identity crisis , " writes the political scientist Hamza Meddeb in a study of the Carnegie Middle East Center published on September 5. Confronted with the erosion of its historical base - the inner-Tunisian working classes - while the rallying of new, more secularized social strata on the urban coastline is slow in coming, Ennahda has its foundations weakened. The loss of one-third of its electorate in the 2018 municipal elections compared to the 2014 elections is one of the manifestations of this "identity crisis" .

If it remains despite all the first Tunisian party, strong of the main parliamentary group in the Assembly, Ennahda owes it especially to the implosion of the family called "modernist", coalition in 2012 around Nidaa Tounès before fragmenting after 2015 Ennahda's ability to overcome the challenges of its doctrinal and sociological transformation will be one of the issues of the presidential election, but especially the legislative elections scheduled for 8 October.

Quest for respectability

Mr. Mourou, a truculent lawyer and postures often out of step with the Ennahda line, is among those who think that the reform of the party must be even bolder. Certainly, his little sentence on the requalification of the party in "conservative" - and only conservative - expresses only a "personal position" , he says. But he wants to "open a debate within Ennahda" to continue a review already well underway.

Source: lemonde

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