Facebook, the Tunisians’ favorite political arena


While Facebook is commonly used to publish news and snapshots of everyday life, Tunisians have made it a major political arena. Citizens and politicians debate and fool around there all day. It is also through a simple Facebook post that President Kaïs Saïed announced the extension of the freezing of the congregation to his citizens.

From our correspondent in Tunis,

It is a discipline that the Tunisians practice in high doses and which has no equal to ensure the tone of their ten fingers. Forcing many of them to share their views, analyzes or political views.

Rym El Ghid Souid, a dentist by profession, follows this practice. “Sometimes I post a status every hour since July 25th. It’s really compulsive, she admits. During the revolution, in the beginning, we were euphoric because we really thought there would be change. Then we saw our country fall back in the same way as before and the desire to do or say things faded a bit. This desire comes back today because what is happening in the country is not trivial. Hope is reborn. ”

Rym is one of the Tunisians who believes that by freezing the assembly, President Kaïs Saïed has freed Tunisia from a corrupt political class and only worked to keep it in power. Decisive positions that often gave him clashes with Internet users who do not agree with his analysis.

Debates, wit and virtual quarrelsA virtual arena, Facebook also often takes out a boxing ring in Tunisia, as exchanges around the country can quickly deteriorate. “People are passionate and sometimes hate speech and that worries me a little. The debate is not at all calm. I think what ignites the emotions is this expectation. The wait is starting to get long. We do not understand why it takes so long, Rym explains.

Even today, Tunisians are waiting to learn more about the president’s “road map”. To fill the void, debates, speculations and other screens are going well. Virtual quarrels adorned with testimonials often feel very good because Facebook has also become the place that stands out where “tanbir” is practiced, this humor borders on cynicism that Tunisians love. Memes and other satirical diversions abound there, making it possible to relax in an atmosphere that is sometimes heavy because the future is uncertain.

Kaïs Saïed, who has ruled the country since adopting exceptional powers on July 25, also communicates with his citizens via the president’s official Facebook page. Anyone who refuses to give interviews necessarily has little taste for interactivity. The probability of seeing him make a live t-shirt on Tik-Tok, like his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, is science fiction. Carthage is therefore content to communicate the president’s activities on Facebook.

It is also on this network, with a lapidary record, that the extension of Parliament’s freeze was announced on the night of Monday 23 to Tuesday 24 August 2021. An election that responds to a double logic according to Kerim Bouzouita, political communication specialist: “The first rule for political communication is to address the target audience through the channel used by that audience. But Kaïs Saïed’s target group is Tunisian citizens who have political consumption habits on Facebook, so he decided only on the information and consumption habits for his goal. In addition, Kaïs Saïed does not believe in intermediaries. He is a supporter of direct control – “open government” – so everything that is intermediary between him and the “people” simply does not happen. “

Elected officials who lined up at a social networking showBefore the freezing of the assembly was ordered, the race for the drone had stimulated the creativity of some Tunisian elected officials, which was launched in a race for “likes” that will cost them dearly. In Parliament, we have seen deputies during a night sitting – “sleep -in” some would say – wrapped in blankets. We also saw Abir Moussi, a member of the Free Destourien Party, wearing a motorcycle helmet to highlight the alleged threats to his physical integrity.

Then the show quickly became a tragicomedy when, armed with smartphones, elected officials from opposite political sides engaged in verbal, and sometimes even physical, confrontations with great violence. Everyone is apparently broadcast live on social networks, which makes Parliament look like a fantastic reality TV show, each one more incredible than the next.

For Kerim Bouzouita, this “outrageous” spectacle was clearly calculated. “Some deputies have played with fire, Facebook’s algorithms. At one point, Facebook encouraged political clashes, political spectacle, sensationalism, and therefore Tunisian deputies rushed into it. They wanted to increase their visibility and take over the public space. “

What arouses the anger of Tunisians whose patience stopped eroding at the same time as their purchasing power. This view of the elected representatives of the people giving themselves an online spectacle may also hasten Kaïs Saïed’s decision to freeze the congregation. This phenomenon favored the emergence of the breadwinner in the character Kaïs Saïed. We can say that Parliament simply committed suicide, says Kerim Bouzouita.

While Tunisia, according to some observers, is moving towards a possible revision of the constitution, or even a change of political regime, it is a sure bet that the keyboards of the Tunisians will not cool down any time soon …

Ultra-connected Tunisians

There are an estimated 7,650,000 Facebook accounts in the country for a population of 11.69 million, or a penetration rate of 66%. By comparison, it is 59% in France.


This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More