Monday, July 25, 2022

Tunisia: the constitutional referendum of 25 July to crown and strengthen the current Saied-Biden regime

The consultative referendum of 25 July on the new constitution is important because it represents, beyond its final outcome, a stage of consolidation of the current regime inaugurated on 25 July 2021 with the presidential coup1 of Kais Saied supported by the armed forces and a mobilization and widespread popular sympathy which, it should be remembered, on 24 July had attacked the headquarters of the main ruling party to crown years of mobilizations to the cry of degage (go away!).

The events of 25 July and those of 22 September 20212 had been greeted with great enthusiasm by large sectors of the popular masses and by some Marxist-Leninist-Maoist and Marxist-Leninist Tunisian organizations and parties which understood that a new favorable political context had arisen since the ousting of the Ennahdha-Karama-Qalb Tounes government and the freezing of the extreme right composition parliament.

Furthermore, July 25 finally put an end to the unfortunate decade of "democratic transition" read the restoration of the old regime in new forms (with the envelope of parliamentary democracy) which took place immediately after January 14, 2011 which in fact denied the demands of the popular uprising of 2010-2011, the latter erroneously defined as "revolution" also arriving at the widespread use of the grotesque definition with an orientalist flavor of "jasmine revolution".

Having said this, however, it is necessary to reiterate, remaining faithful to the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist materialist analysis, that the coup of 25 July 2021 did not change the class nature of the state which remains semi-colonial (i.e. subordinate to the imperialist powers starting from France , Italy and the USA that exploit its natural resources as well as its workforce) with a capitalism that is not fully developed, of a bureaucratic and comprador nature, a country in which semi-feudal relations still remain both in the structure and in the superstructure of society.

Furthermore, the 25 July / 22 September process did not abolish the police state that had existed since

independence with the Bourguiba regime, which was greatly strengthened during the Ben Ali regime, survived and infiltrated by Islamist elements during the so-called "democratic transition" and in the last year purged by most of the Islamist elements and mainly used against the latter by the current presidential regime and a few days ago, on 22 July, a disproportionate repression made up of charges and gases, hit parties, groups and associations of the revisionist and progressive left who with a demonstration in the center of Tunis contested the holding of the referendum, ending with the arrest of six militants released the following day.

The main contradiction in the country has therefore not changed and remains that between the oppressed Tunisian people on the one hand and the bureaucratic-comprador bourgeoisie supported by imperialism on the other.

On July 28, 2021, in the aftermath of the coup, after analyzing the weaknesses that emerged in the reactionary pole of the government forcibly ousted, we wrote:

"On the other side of the fence, the presidency of the republic momentarily enjoys a tactical advantage that could prove inconclusive or more likely counterproductive if it fails to give a definite political and organizational form to [its] widespread popular support."

On September 22, 2021, after the presidential announcement once again garnered broad support among the masses and revolutionaries of the country, we commented as follows:

"The political situation is objectively favorable for the revolutionary forces to enter the field and take advantage of the current unfavorable balance of power for the reactionary Ennahdha-Karama-Qalb Tounes but we must seize the moment".

Finally, on 29 September we added, among other things, these reflections:

The moment of 25 / 07-22 / 09 which caused a profound crisis of the former governing parties is certainly a good thing and is seen positively by the revolutionary forces, even if there is no trust on their part in the government of man alone. in command, but completely different criticisms are posed with respect to those coming from the reformist camp [...] The criticism of the revolutionary forces against Kais Saied lashes out against the ambition to think of being able to administer and even reform a political system alone or better only with the support of the military and civilian armed forces without involving the parties and workers' associations, which are quite another thing from the NGOs financed by the Western powers. This criticism therefore pushes to develop the political force as an expression of the workers , peasants and popular masses to support and direct the political transition of July 25 / September 22 in a revolutionary sense are the conditions for the development of an economy that is truly independent and disconnected from the diktats of imperialism and its agencies (International Monetary Fund and the World Bank above all) and to develop a policy that aspires to real political and cultural independence. [...] Evidently the objective of satisfying the claims summarized by the slogan Choghl, Hurria, Karama Watania (Work, Freedom and national dignity) turns out to be more complex than the similar academic debates in progress of a juridical / constitutionalist type: the ten years of "Tunisian democracy" [...] are there to demonstrate that the heart of the problem lies instead in the question of the nature of political power and which social class (es) exercise it.

Last October, while the vaccination campaign (initiated by the new "presidential regime") continued while the main reactionary political forces were in extreme difficulty with their mass base collapsing as demonstrated by Ennahda's failed appeals to take back parliament and "democracy", while Kais Saied rejected all attempts at meddling by Western imperialism (supported by the helpful idiots of the reformist left), it seemed that the class, progressive and revolutionary political forces were creating a pole to enter the political scene and orient it in the course with the formation of a front of revolutionary and progressive organizations.

This attempt failed in November and certainly this negatively affected the development of political events in the country, relegating the political initiative exclusively to the presidency of the republic. Between November 2021 and June 2022 there was essentially a passive support for the president by the masses with the spread of an equally widespread social peace, with the exception of some peasant struggles to defend the land and access to water in the regions of North-West, and for the organized unemployed of Tataouine, struggles that have been attacked by police and judicial repression. In the same period, some militants and revolutionary parties took on the words of order of Kais Saied, almost identifying themselves with the political agenda of the presidency of the republic, supporting for example the referendum campaign for the yes, assuming as a political objective that of the annulment of the political Islam or Ennahdha (the pillar of the "democratic transition").

The political initiative therefore remained exclusive to the president who continues to enjoy the support of the armed forces to this day. In fact, Kais Saied, after an initial formal opening to mass social forces such as the trade union (UGTT), the patronal association (UTICA) and the Association of Tunisian Democratic Women (AFT), has instead continued to carry out its project of constitutional reform by refusing support and dialogue with these and other organizations in society.

The ruling class, the Tunisian comprador bourgeoisie fed by imperialism seems to have dumped Ennahdha and the other ruling parties, at the same time it does not seem that it is even addressing the main anti-Islamist party that opposes Kais Saied, or the reactionary PDL led by Abir Moussi, nostalgic for the Ben Ali regime. The danger is that he has already bet his cards on Kais Saied which could therefore prove to be "counterproductive".

Indeed, the current Saied / Bouden regime in recent months has given signs of continuity with the past that seem to reassure the local ruling class and imperialism and its financial agencies starting from the IMF with which it seems that a new agreement of financing / indebtedness will finally be reached thanks to the fact that the government has confirmed the gradual reduction of subsidies to some basic necessities whose prices are set by the state (the government has already increased the price of milk and eggs and twice that of gasoline), despite Saied's anti-corruption rhetoric, a "national reconciliation" with corrupt businessmen linked to the old regime is in the pipeline; at the same time, no change of strategy in favor of national independence and of the popular classes can be seen on the horizon with regard to the country's agricultural policy and food dependence, industrial policy, the fight against unemployment; continuity remains in the role of anti-migrant gendarme that Tunisia has assumed "in defense" of "Fortress Europe" above all on behalf of Italy.

Therefore, despite the political step forward of 25 July-22 September 2021, represented by having wiped out the reactionary government and parliament, the non-autonomous entry into the scene of the revolutionary political forces and their substantial follow-up to the president's policy, has meant that this initial step forward did not translate into an advantage in the balance of power in favor of or class struggle.

We do not intend to enter into the merits of the new constitution, issued directly by the president of the republic supported by some jurists, whose text was made public only three weeks before the date of the referendum and in the absence of the necessary popular debate. Only last week and only political and trade union activists, intellectuals and some sectors of the white-collar bourgeoisie entered into the merits of this debate but mainly through social media; the popular sectors that will vote for "yes" will thus express their support for the current regime and, on the other hand, it will be the same for the "no". The referendum is therefore a plebiscite on the current political process in progress, it is almost taken for granted that whatever the rate of participation in the vote and whatever the outcome, at the end of the month the country will officially adopt the new constitution.

We therefore do not believe, unlike our Tunisian comrades, that once the entry into force of the constitution is formalized this will mechanically lead to a more favorable situation for the Tunisian people. We believe instead that the Saied-Bouden regime will continue along the trajectory of continuity in the service of the Tunisian comprador bourgeoisie and imperialism through the police state, if a proletarian and popular opposition organized and directed by the revolutionary m-l-m parties and organizations does not take shape acting in full class autonomy in the current contradiction, strengthening and building the tools of the party, of the united front and of the people's army on the wau of the New Democracy Revolution.

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