The 14th of January marked the first birthday of the Tunisian revolution and the fall of former dictator Ben Ali. Since then, Tunisia has taken remarkable steps in its democratization process. The political life is active, dozens of parties and hundreds of civil society organisations have been founded. Also, a governing body for drafting a new constitution was elected in a succesful election last autumn. Nevertheless, many Tunisians are disappointed by the slow pace of democratization. Especially the youth think that they have been forgotten. By a Tunisian request, Demo Finland has launched a co-operative project that aims to enhance the youth’s voice in politics.
Even though Tunisian youth played a major role in the Jasmine revolution, they have since become marginalised in the country’s politics. Tunisian youth are actually politically active, but they prefer to take it to the streets, organise demonstration and share the message in social media, rather than takin part in party politics. This is partly a choice of the youth, since they disregard party politics because of its filthy reputation. On the other hand, the parties have forgotten the youth and are not making any effort to engage the youth. Since almost 70 percent of Tunisians are under 35 year old, it is really important to activate them in the political sphere.
After decades under a dictatorship, Tunisian youth lack political experience and channels to make their voice heard. The country’s political elite consists of elderly men, and the youth struggle to break the long lasting hegemony. Even though, many youngsters are interested in politics and they are eager to affect the future of their country, the possibilities to do so are very limited.
To empower the youth, Demo Finland takes part in a co-operational project of four organisations. Together with Centre des Etudes Méditerranéennes et Internationales (CEMI), Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) and Bulgarian School of Politics (BSoP), Demo is launching a School of Politics for Tunisian youth who are active in politics or civil society.
The goal of the School is to gather youth from different political parties and backgrounds and offer them tools for strategic political thinking. The objective is to enhance the youth’s capability to work in party politics and to make them understand the importance of multi party system and cross party co-operation. The project also aims to offer Tunisian and European youth politicians with possibilities for mutual learning and sharing of experiences.
Together with the three organisations, Demo Finland introduced the concept of the School for Tunisian parties in a seminar held in Tunis. The seminar that took place the 15th and 16th of January, had representatives from ten biggest parties of the country.
The project was received with enthuasism, and the local parties hope that the first course would start as soon as possible. The idea is to choose the first participants during february, so that the school could start already in march.