IRI Poll: Tunisia’s Democratic Success Builds Cautious Optimism and Heightened Expectations

April 23, 2014
 
Tunis, Tunisia – With Tunisia’s passage of a constitution and formation of an interim government, a majority of Tunisians have reaffirmed they are satisfied with democracy and believe the country’s political system is on a democratic path.  IRI's survey (PDF) found that 53 percent of Tunisians continue to prefer democracy, even with instability, over a stable authoritarian government. 
 

At the same time, there is a broad perception that their path to democracy is not yet complete.  Forty percent said Tunisia is a flawed democracy, and a clear majority (79 percent) believe political parties are not doing enough to address Tunisians’ needs. 

Majority Support Democracy
Despite the turmoil of the past year, Tunisians remain committed to democracy.  When asked which statement they agreed with a majority (52 percent) said, “Democracy is preferable to any other kind of government.”  That is up from 44 percent in IRI’s October 2013 survey.  Furthermore, 70 percent of respondents are satisfied with democracy in Tunisia, up from 54 percent in October 2013.

Positive Shift in Mood of the Country and Improving View of Security
The rise in satisfaction with democracy coincides with satisfaction in the new government (74 percent) and the new constitution (62 percent), which was passed on January 27, 2014. 

In a dramatic shift, 47 percent of respondents now believe that their country is headed in the right direction.  While not a majority, it is up from only 16 percent in October 2013.  Forty-eight percent still believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, and the majority of those cite economic and employment challenges as their country’s priority issue. 

Despite economic challenges, optimism for future economic improvement has increased considerably with 62 percent believing that their household financial situation will be better next year, up from only 44 percent in October.  Perception of the government’s handling of public security has also improved with 84 percent believing security has improved, up from 69 percent in October. 

While this shift in public opinion, speaks well of the country’s path, it poses challenges and opportunities for Tunisian decision-makers to effectively manage public expectations.

Methodology 
This is the 11th poll IRI has conducted in Tunisia since January 2011 and the seventh since the national constituent assembly elections on October 23, 2011.  These polls provide Tunisian political stakeholders with data on citizen priorities and expectations as they navigate their transition to democracy. 

The survey, conducted February 12-22, 2014, was undertaken in cooperation with Elka Consulting, a Tunisia-based market survey research firm, and international research firm Williams and Associates of Salem, Massachusetts.  A total of 1,232 interviews were completed, yielding an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2.84 percent at the midrange of the 95 percent confidence level. 

This poll was conducted with support from the Middle East Partnership Initiative.

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