MOST LIKELY REGIMES AND THEIR PROBABILITIES
18-Month: Reformist Coalition 45% (55%)
Five-Year: Reformist Coalition 45% (50%)
FORECASTS OF RISK TO INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS
 
Turmoil
Financial
Transfer
Direct
Investment
Export
Market
18-Month: High C+ B (B+) C+
Five-Year: Moderate C+ B- (B) C+ (B-)

( ) Indicates change in rating.                                        * Indicates forecast of a new regime.

KEY ECONOMIC FORECASTS

Years
Real GDP
Growth %

Inflation %
Current
Account ($bn)
2010-2014(AVG) 2.4 4.9 -3.49
2015(F) 1.1 5.0 -3.90
2016-2020(F) 3.5 4.6 -3.70

Political Stability Threatened

Tunisia was the epicenter of the Arab Spring phenomenon, and is the only country that has managed to realize the democratizing potential of the regional uprising. Nevertheless, the persistence of official corruption, tensions between political secularists and Islamists, the repeated targeting of Tunisia for terrorist attacks, and the threat to security posed by conflict in neighboring Libya create the potential for political regression.

The risks in that regard have increased in recent weeks, amid an increasingly intense power struggle between rival factions within the main governing Nidaa Tounes that is pushing the party toward an acrimonious breakup. The splintering of the country’s largest secularist political force would greatly enhance the political leverage of the Islamist Ennahda, which proved unequal to the task of ensuring a stable political climate when it headed the government in 2011–2014.

Nidaa Tounes includes both left-leaning democracy activists and conservative former members of the authoritarian regime that was forced from power in early 2011, and the ideological differences between the two factions have slowed progress on reform measures designed to eliminate impediments to investment, ensure fiscal stability, and reduce labor-market rigidities that pose an obstacle to reducing unemployment. The splintering of Nidaa Tounes would certainly not improve matters, as a weakened government would be wary of provoking a backlash by pressing ahead with unpopular reforms.

If there is reason for optimism that Tunisia’s parties will find some way out of the brewing crisis, it stems from the fact that most are committed to ensuring that democracy takes root in the country, even if that means making unpalatable concessions. Moreover, although recent terrorist attacks have contributed to a climate of insecurity, there is no indication that substantial numbers of Tunisians have grown nostalgic for a strongman style of rule, regardless of any designs that President Essebsi and other former members of the authoritarian regime ousted in early 2011 might have along those lines.

That said, the battle unfolding within Nidaa Tounes suggests that the pragmatism of various political forces is not absolute, and the accusations made by liberal secularists against the ex-members of the RCD indicate that some Tunisian political leaders are more committed to democracy than others. Although the dissidents have stopped short of formally severing ties with Nidaa Tounes, that step can be expected if the factions fail to resolve the dispute before the holding of party leadership elections in December. Given the limited basis for forming a stable government in the event of a permanent split in the party, there is a clear risk that Tunisia’s transition from authoritarian to democratic rule might yet be derailed.

Economic Forecasts for the Three Alternative Regimes

       Reformist Coalition      Divided Government               Military
  Growth
(%)
Inflation
(%)
CACC
($bn)
Growth
(%)
Inflation
(%)
CACC
($bn)
Growth
(%)
Inflation
(%)
CACC
($bn)
2015 1.1 5.0 -3.90 0.8 5.2 -4.25 0.2 5.5 -4.40
2016-2020 3.5 4.6 -3.70 2.6 5.7 -4.50 1.4 6.9 -5.80