Updated: Feb 28, 2018
> In the short term, demonstrators are angry at price and tax rises, imposed by the government to cut a soaring deficit and meet demands of international lenders. But protests are also fuelled by the lack of major economic improvement since the ousting in 2011 of the autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
There is also widespread disillusionment with Tunisia’s political elite. One main protest group – FeshNestannew? (What Are We Waiting For?) – wants a return to the spirit of the 2011 revolt, demanding “employment, freedom, and national dignity”.
( The Guardian )
> Every noble left to his son either a castle or a mansion and also a lot of territory from which he could collect taxes. Montesquieu, a nobleman himself, wrote thus: “A great noble is a man who sees the king, speaks to his minister and who possesses ancestors, debts and pensions.”
The average general prices of consumers’ goods were higher between 1785 and 1789 than they had been between 1726 and 1741. The rise in the cost of living adversely affected those who were nearest the subsistence level. The cereals eaten by the peasants rose more in price than wheat eaten by the well-to-do.
> While Tunisia is widely seen as the only democratic success story among Arab spring states, it has had nine governments since the overthrow of the authoritarian leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
The revolt was sparked by the death in 2010 of Mohamed Bouazizi, a street seller who set himself on fire in a protest over unemployment and police harassment.
The ousting of Ben Ali, who ruled for 24 years, raised expectations of rapid improvement and a much fairer distribution of wealth.
Instead, few of the deep structural problems that led to the revolt have been dealt with, and development has favoured areas and elites that had prospered under the former regime.
(The Guardian )
> In the fall of 1786, Louis XVI’s controller general, Charles Alexandre de Calonne (1734-1802), proposed a financial reform package that included a universal land tax from which the privileged classes would no longer be exempt.
To garner support for these measures and forestall a growing aristocratic revolt, the king summoned the Estates-General (“les étatsgénéraux”)–an assembly representing France’s clergy, nobility and middle class–for the first time since 1614.
The meeting was scheduled for May 5, 1789; in the meantime, delegates of the three estates from each locality would compile lists of grievances (“cahiers de doléances”) to present to the king.
> So far the response from politicians and officials has been to deploy thousands of police and even soldiers in some towns.
There has been little attempt to engage with the grievances of the protesters and much effort to portray them as criminals. More than 300 arrests have been made.
HazemChikhaoui, a 22-year-old student representative in Tunis, said the security forces were “aiming to terrorise and silence protesters through systematic violence”.
( The Guardian )
> Over 17,000 people were officially tried and executed during the Reign of Terror, and an unknown number of others died in prison or without trial.
“As the 18th century drew to a close, France’s costly involvement in the American Revolution and extravagant spending by King Louis XVI (1754-1793) and his predecessor had left the country on the brink of bankruptcy. Not only were the royal coffers depleted, but two decades of poor cereal harvests, drought, cattle disease and skyrocketing bread prices had kindled unrest among peasants and the urban poor. Many expressed their desperation and resentment toward a regime that imposed heavy taxes yet failed to provide relief by rioting, looting and striking.”
“Food prices in Tunisia have risen by around 8% each year since 2011, but inflation dropped to less than half that 18 months ago before spiking to a new high last autumn. There has been little increase in incomes for most people.Chahed, who heads a coalition of secular and Islamist parties, has said 2018 will be a difficult year for Tunisia but the economy will improve rapidly once the new measures take effect.International lenders extended a crucial $2.8bn (£2.1bn) loan to Tunisia in 2015, demanding cuts to the civil service and a broader austerity programme.
The protests broke out after activists and politicians denounced increases in VAT and the introduction of social contributions at the start of the year as a tough new budget was implemented.A year ago, the government agreed to a four-year loan programme with the International Monetary Fund worth about $2.8bn in return for economic reforms.”
( The Guardian )
“The French population participated actively in the new political culture created by the Revolution. Dozens of uncensored newspapers kept citizens abreast of events, and political clubs allowed them to voice their opinions. Public ceremonies such as the planting of “trees of liberty” in small villages and the Festival of Federation, held in Paris in 1790 on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, were symbolic affirmations of the new order.”
WHAT HAS CHANGED ?