Thursday (September 30th): Tunisia: Romdhane Appointed PM

Najla Bouden Romdhane - Tunisia
Najla Bouden Romdhane

Name? Najla Bouden Romdhane 

Westphalian identity? Tunisian

Age? 62/63

Why is she in the news? Last week, Tunisian President, Kais Saied, performed a controversial power grab when invoking his emergency powers. After promising to reappoint a Prime Minister, Kais Saied appointed Najla Bouden Romdhane into the post yesterday. With her appointment, she became the Arab world’s first female prime minister, taking on a big role as Tunisia has been stuck in a political deadlock for the past two months. 

Why do we care? As we said last week, Tunisia was noted as a golden model to the west for its transition to democracy. Though Romdhane’s appointment may improve how western allies view Tunisia, the PM was appointed without any confirmation from Parliament, a norm in the 2014 Tunisian constitution. Though, because Romdhane was unilaterally installed, Saied’s political opponents will likely see her as an illegitimate PM and continue to be vocal against President Saied. 

Why should you care? It seems unlikely that Romdhane’s presence will resolve the political or economic crises cited by Saied. Since Romdhane’s appointment is not widely seen to be legitimate, the political opposition will likely not cooperate with such a government. Of course, this is only going to deepen the economic crisis in Tunisia, where roughly 75% of the population lives in poverty, you should care 5/10

Who else cares? Recently, German chancellor Angela Merkel had spoken with President Saied urging him to return to parliamentary rule and restore the democratic progress the country made a decade ago. The United States and France also called on the President to appoint a Prime Minister, after the power grabs made by Saied, previously. 

Any further comments? Like in many other instances, the appointment for the PM made by the Presidents in authoritarian regimes often includes a PM that is politically inexperienced. A geologist and professor, Romdhane may play exactly that role, pleasing the West and allowing him to continue his rule.