Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab uprisings, has emerged to become a beacon of democracy in the MENA region.
Now its citizens have understandably high expectations for the future – and Westminster Foundation for Democracy believes an effective Parliament can help meet them.
The scale of the challenge faced by Tunisia in the wake of the Arab Spring is reflected in the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the National Dialogue Quartet, which successfully guided the country through a volatile period. In the coming years Tunisians want to see improved service delivery, action taken to tackle corruption and better management of public money. Financial scrutiny is crucial to all of these, which is why the establishment of a Public Accounts Committee with WFD’s support is so significant.
WFD has maintained a presence in Tunisia since 2011. Our work with the National Constituent Assembly helped its work on drafting the new constitution, strengthening the legislative function and consolidating the legal framework for parliamentary oversight. We worked on a cross-party basis to strengthen the women and youth wings of Tunisian parties, resulting in the increased capacity of women and youth candidates in the 2014 elections. Our background work in Tunisia has marked WFD out as a trustworthy, neutral organisation able to build relationships with both officials and MPs.
Now the institutional changes brought by the new constitution need consolidating. These are high stakes: the Assembly of Representatives of the People is legislating to establish good governance, making it all the more important that the legislation it passes with financial, socio-economic and human rights implications are as well-drafted as possible. Individual MPs’ work matters too, underlining the need for better communications between the parliament and Tunisia’s citizens.
Our current programme aims to contribute to Tunisia’s developing democracy by strengthening the Parliament’s legislative, oversight and representation functions. We are working closely with MPs to improve their competencies in drafting legislation. Our work supporting financial scrutiny draws on lessons learnt in establishing the Moroccan Public Accounts Committee.
WFD is committed to continuing our presence in Tunisia – and we want to do more to help the Parliament in the coming years. Youth, women and regional committees are all possible areas of future work, and we are open to further funding opportunities as they arise.