Dissatisfaction with established parties in Tunisian politics means parliamentary elections on October 6 may not yield a clear winner, complicating the process of coalition building at a pivotal moment for the economy.
Eight years after the revolution which triggered the “Arab spring” uprisings, many Tunisians have grown disillusioned with an establishment that has failed to improve living standards.
Though Tunisian politics has long involved secular and Islamist groups competing in elections then sharing power, an emerging populism threatens an end to compromise.
Three weeks ago, in a separate, presidential election, voters turned on all the main players in government, rejecting prominent politicians to send a pair of political newcomers through to a second-round runoff.
Under Tunisia’s 2014 constitution, a prime minister drawn from the biggest party in parliament controls most domestic policy, while the president is only directly in charge of the foreign and defense briefs.
With unemployment at about 15 percent nationally, and 30 percent in some cities, and with the government in the middle of efforts to rein in inflation that hit 7.8 percent last year, any political paralysis could be dangerous.