Youth disenfranchisement in Tunisia

Originally commissioned in November 2015

  • Youth disenfranchisement, a key factor in the ‘Arab Spring’, remains unresolved in Tunisia and is driving radicalization.


  • Disenfranchisement is fuelling anti-government protests, threatening Tunisia’s stability.


  • Disenfranchisement is driven by a weak civil society, nepotism in work places and government institutions, skills mismatches, and regional inequalities.


Youth disenfranchisement a key factor driving the 2011 fall of the Ben Ali regime, persists to this day in Tunisia, representing a risk to Tunisia’s stability and a trigger for radicalization. High unemployment, as well as skills mismatches, with more graduates than graduate-level jobs are exacerbated by nepotism within work places and employment programmes. The ethos of many government schemes and institutions remain little changed from the regime, which is not focused on meritocratic youth development. A lack of youth participation in and the weakness of civil society to lever pressure on the political class hamper improvements.


Recent violent protests in Tunisia demonstrate that this situation represents a threat to stability. In June of this year, in the underprivileged, interior town of Douz, protestors drove police from the town for several days and gutted the police station. The protests began around employment disputes. A spike in unemployment preceded the protests which unseated the Ben Ali regime. Regional inequalities also drive anger, with perceptions that the interior of the country receives less attention, the resolution of which is hampered by cronyism in government institutions. Many ISIS fighters come from Tunisia, with the largest sources, Bizerte and Ben Gardane, having high levels of unemployment, a factor they share with most hot spots around the world.



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