Tunisia’s Democratic Transition Through the Lense of Four Prominent Advocates

This year, at its annual Democracy Award Dinner to be held on Tuesday, November 10, in Washington, D.C., NDI will honor Tunisia’s democratic transition through the lense of four Tunisians who represent its government, parliament and civil society. The Democracy Award, NDI’s highest honor, is presented annually to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to democracy and human rights.

Tunisians Yassine Brahim, Rafik Halouani, Wafa Makhlouf and Sayida Ounissi have been, among others, at the forefront of efforts to advance the democratic transition in their country, reflecting a new generation of democratic leaders. It is leaders from civil society, political parties and government, like those honored with this year’s Democracy Award, who are turning the promise of the Tunisian revolution into real improvement in the daily lives of citizens and make democracy succeed.

View Livestream (beginning 7:00pm ET on Nov. 10, 2015) 

1. A Minister and party leader (tweet this)

Yassine Brahim

In his capacity of Tunisia’s Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation, Yassine Brahim will be representing the Tunisian government at this event.  Brahim is the President and co-founder of Afek Tounes party, founded in March 2011 that reemerged on the political scene following its departure from a coalition in August 2013. He has an engineering degree from École Centrale de Paris, started his professional career at Cap Gemini, and then worked for six years for Société Générale in France. As the General Director of GL Trade, now SunGard, he lived in London and Singapore and then returned to Tunisia. After the Tunisian revolution on January 27, 2011, Yassine Brahim was appointed Minister of Transportation and Equipment under the second interim transitional government. Following his nomination as minister, he represented Tunisia in the Davos Forum in Switzerland. He resigned on June 17, 2011 to become General Secretary of the newly founded Afek Tounes. In the 2014 legislative election, Brahim was elected to represent the Mahdia district at the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP). In February 2015, Afek Tounes agreed to a unity government with Nidaa Tounes, Ennahdha and UPL. In Prime Minister Habib Essid's cabinet, he became Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation.

2. A guardian of fair elections (tweet this)

Rafik Halouani

Rafik Halouani is a well-known civil society activist and the general coordinator of Mourakiboun, the Tunisian domestic observation network, which monitored the 2011 National Constituent Assembly elections and the 2014 parliamentary and presidential elections. They also conducted the MENA region’s first parallel vote tabulation (PVT), a methodology that allows citizen observers to independently verify election results. He founded Mourakiboun after the revolution to focus on domestic election observation. Mourakiboun has 5,000 trained observers, and has mobilized a nationwide network of volunteers to map polling centers and generate a dynamic map for all of the stakeholders. The organization will now apply the same methodology to monitor government service delivery, i.e. health care services. After the Arab spring, Halouani also delivered trainings on domestic observation topics to nongovernmental organizations in Egypt, Libya and Madagascar.

3. An entrepreneur and political leader (tweet this)

Wafa Makhlouf

Representing the Tunisian Parliament and women entrepreneurship, Wafa Makhlouf, a founding member of the political party Nidaa Tounes will be attending the event. She was elected in 2014 as a deputy in the ARP. She was named one of the top 100 powerful women in the Arab world by In 2014, she was the first woman and also the first Tunisian figure to be named International President of the Young Entrepreneurs Association (CJD). During her CJD presidency, Makhlouf has initiated the first Tunisian women’s entrepreneur incubator, which unleashed entrepreneurship potential for women in opportunity deprived locations in Tunisia.  Makhlouf is also the Director for Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED), which provides Tunisian entrepreneurs with the funds, training, and networking opportunities they need to get their businesses up and running. She founded Proclean in 2003, an environmental services provider to public sector agencies. It employs 70 individuals and is involved in a wide range of public area environment management in Tunisia.  

4. A next-generation political leader (tweet this)

Sayida Ounissi

Another representant of the Tunisian Parliament, Sayida Ounissi, at 28, is a young member of the ARP who also represents the diaspora in France,  as well as the Ennahda party. She holds a Master’s degree from the University Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne and is currently obtaining a PhD in political sociology at La Sorbonne University. She is a member of the Finances Committee of the Tunisian Parliament. Sayida Ounissi's experience with economics started in the African Bank of Development in 2011. She was selected by the Huffington Post (Tunisia) as the personality to watch closely in the next 10 years. Ounissi is also the Vice President of the Forum of European Muslim Youth (FEMSYO), the largest platform for Muslim youth in Europe.