The al-Nahda Party and the European Union

Raw video of al-Nahda party by Al Jazeera English:

Election polls in Tunisia are indicating that the prospective winner will be the al-Nahda (also spelled as Ennahda), a modern Islamist movement where they seek to combine secular and Islamic principles. But the question is, who exactly are they? and what does the European Union feel about the elections and the party?

These are an interesting questions since al-Nahda and their competition, the Progressive Democractic Party, both claim to stand for the protection of individual freedom, the best alternative to government corruption, and the force that could stimulate economic growth and development. Whatever the case is, the al-Nahda party has the highest possible chance of winning, as news results show. The New York Times labeled the party,

‘the most modernist’ Islamic political movement in the Arab world — meaning the most committed to principles of democracy and pluralism — Mr. Laredi predicted that it would now “lead the way” for others around the region.

And al-Nahda was also discussing the formation of “a unity government with the four or five other more liberal parties that were expected to get representation in the constituent assembly, which is to draft the constitution. ” They have “vowed to create another kind of new model for the Arab world, one reconciling Islamic principles with Western-style democracy. ”

The Wall Street Journal, a conservative-oriented newspaper, covered the elections as well and showed Rachid al-Ghannouchi, the party’s long-time leader who was banned from the country by former President Ben Ali due to his Islamic political views, as an individual who is willing to allow previous laws  to coexist with this party’s political aims. He demonstrates this in regards to the controversial issue of woman’s rights:

Mr. Ghannouchi says he sees no reason for the only Arab country to have outlawed polygamy to reverse course. The 1956 Code of Personal Status, which established women’s legal equality in most matters except for inheritance rights, is sacred to him, too. He says he looks forward to many elections like Sunday’s.

Interestingly enough, there is some mirroring between al-Nahda and the right-wing political parties seeking to be elected in Europe, the very continent where Islamophobia and immigration has become a contentious issue. “Nahda’s program hits themes many Republicans and European Christian Democrats might recognize. There’s talk of family values, the free market, and the dangers of government corruption. There are also populist themes such as promises to wipe out unemployment in three years.” Unemployment levels, in Tunisia, according to the Atlantic Magazine, is at “18.5 percent and may be as high as 30 percent among university graduates,” and this means “that the same economic concerns that inspired Tunisians to hit the streets in in early 2011 have actually worsened, exacerbated by the months of political upheaval.”

Nevertheless, where does the European Union stand? Well, it’s obvious that anything that could help alleviate the stubborn unemployment rate in Tunisia could serve as an economic impetus for illegal immigrants living in European countries, especially in Lampedusa, to return home to their families. The European Union, in fact, is currently observing the elections and the drafting of a new Tunisian constitution. According to the European Voice,

The European Union has sent nearly 150 observers to Tunisia to monitor the first election following this year’s revolutions in north Africa, to be held on Sunday (23 October). Tunisians will vote for a constituent assembly which will be tasked with drawing up a new constitution following decades of authoritarian rule…The mission is led by ten experts and consists of 57 long-term observers, 66 short-term observers and 12 observers who will follow the vote of expatriate Tunisians in Belgium, France, Germany and Italy, the EU member states with the largest Tunisian communities.

It is already understood from European Union diplomats that they will “closely scrutinise the results of the Ennahda party, the country’s main Islamist party.” Nevertheless, the Tunisians, both at home and abroad, are hopeful that whatever party wins, it will undue what the dictatorship before them has done, and will usher in a new era of democracy, where freedom, economic security, and fair governance is assured.

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1 Response to The al-Nahda Party and the European Union

  1. Pingback: Tunisia’s polls: a model for the Arab world? « Lebs295's Blog

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