- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Most Tunisians say their economic situation is worse than it has ever been, worry that their country is headed in the wrong direction but prefer an unstable democracy over a stable authoritarian regime.

The International Republican Institute surveyed 1,236 Tunisian adults from Oct. 1 to Oct. 12. The results were released Tuesday.

The poll found that 60 percent of respondents listed the economy and financial crisis as the most important problems facing their country, followed by unemployment, security and terrorism.

The majority — 79 percent — said they believe Tunisia is heading in the wrong direction, the highest percentage the institute’s first poll in Tunisia in 2011.

Fifty-four percent said they are satisfied with the current state of democracy in their country, but 35 percent described Tunisia as a flawed democracy and 37 percent said it is not a democracy at all.

Tunisia’s Islamist-led government has agreed to step down amid criticism fueled by the assassination of two secular opposition leaders this year. The ruling Ennahda party and the opposition were in talks to form a new caretaker government and appoint an interim prime minister. The talks broke down in November.

Tunisia has grappled with security and economic challenges almost three years since pro-democracy Arab Spring protests toppled the government of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Mr. Ben Ali fled the country on Jan. 14, 2011, following violent protests triggered by the self-immolation of 26-year-old street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi, who was upset about being harassed by a municipal official.

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