The coalition government will still struggle to reverse Tunisia’s malaise. Economic conditions will push young Tunisians towards extremism, thereby increasing the risk of terror attacks. The government will tread carefully in implementing fiscal reforms in fear of public unrest and elections in 2019, but will move ahead with some of them to keep the IMF by its side. Economic growth will pick-up at above 3% during 2021-23, but this will not be enough to bring down the high unemployment rate. Tunisians waning faith in democracy stems from the failure of elected governments to address their economic concerns. Critics accuse African leaders of churning out propaganda without addressing voters’ concerns.
Marouane El Abassi, the governor of Tunisia’s central bank. Appointed in February, the former World Bank official and economics professor has managed to impose a tight monetary policy. He is also coordinating with other ministries to meet the IMF’s conditions, and is negotiating deals with Algeria and Libya that would allow Tunisia to buy oil in its own currency, easing pressure on its foreign-currency reserves. “In a government marked by a lack of economists, and where the economic culture is missing, [Abassi] is sensitizing his colleagues to the gravity of the situation… and convincing them to act energetically,” says Hachemi Alaya, chief economist at the Arab Tunisian Bank. “He’s done a very good job of containing things,” says Francis Ghiles, who studies North Africa and the Western Mediterranean at the Barcelona Center for International Affairs. His performance is already attracting comparisons with Abdellatif Jouahri of Morocco, North Africa’s most respected central banker.