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A new public opinion poll released by the International Republican Institute (IRI) shows rising dissatisfaction among Tunisians, two years after the January 2011 revolution.  IRI has conducted eight national surveys in the country since the end of Ben Ali’s rule and the beginning of Tunisia’s transition to democracy.


The survey was conducted before the murder of opposition leader Chokri Belaid on February 6, an event that drew widespread demonstrations and led to the resignation of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali on February 21.  But even before these developments, Tunisians were increasingly dissatisfied with the direction of the country.  IRI’s poll showed 77 percent of those surveyed believed Tunisia was moving in the wrong direction, the highest level recorded in the Institute’s two years of research.  Respondents cited economic concerns as their top priority, but the survey also found increasing concern over security issues.


While the survey shows Tunisians believe the country should move from the current transitional phase to a new constitution and fresh elections, a steady majority continues to support democracy as the best path for the country.  Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said they would choose a democratic government, even if it led to an unstable and insecure Tunisia, versus 42 percent who preferred a stable and prosperous Tunisia under a non-democratic government.


Tunisia’s transition experience mirrors those of earlier transitions from authoritarianism to democracy.  Voters’ expectations for economic and personal security are high and there is often frustration over interim governments’ inability to solve day-to-day problems.  But we can take encouragement that despite rising concerns over the economy, a majority of Tunisians continue to support their country’s transition to democracy.  And just as Tunisia’s successful revolution began the Arab Spring and inspired similar movements across the Middle East and North Africa, a successful transition to democracy can also serve as a powerful example for its neighbors.


Learn more about the poll here.


Lindsay Lloyd is Program Director, Freedom Collection