Tunisia: Regime Remnants, Women and the Clown - Tunisia's Revolution Three Years On

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The radical change from an all-powerful president in Ben Ali and the charismatic and iconic Bourguiba before him was bound to create a perception that the aura of the presidential office had been lost. But no-one had quite bargained for a figure such as Marzouki.

Seen as impulsive, wry and light, if not frivolous, he has become the butt of jokes, is regularly made fun of in comedy shows, and has been nicknamed tartur (clown).

This is as much a comment on his demeanour as it is on his status as president, a position with far fewer powers now that the bulk of responsibilities has been moved to the office of prime minister.

The youth and the women

Paradoxical as it may seem given the importance of young people in Tunisia's revolution, the median age of its top politicians has increased over the last three years.

This can be explained by the return in force of Bourguiba's lieutenants, who were marginalised under Ben Ali but are still relatively trusted, and the fact that many political parties are led by older 'historical' figures.

After the revolution, the youth found themselves on the margins of the political process, although some have found themselves in protest lines again, while others have been attracted by Salafi movements.

In January 2011, an elderly man proclaimed, "We grew old awaiting this historic moment"; today, Tunisia's young may feel they are now the ones growing old as they await the benefits from a revolution they began.

However, while the youth have been relegated to the sidelines, women have stepped in. Tunisians often proclaim Nisa biladi nisa'un wa nisf ('the women of my country are women and a half'), a line taken from a poem by Sghaier Awlad Ahmed, and praise the women who have been prominent in Tunisia's public life over the last 50 years and who took an active part in the resistance to Ben Ali.

In the October 2011 elections, partly thanks to parity in electoral lists, a large number of women gained seats, including the position of Deputy President of the Assembly. Several major organisations are also now led by women, including the Journalists Association, Magistrates Association, the Union of Industry and Commerce and National Television.

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