Professional Fellow, Chiheb of Tunisia is dedicated to developing new ways for members of Parliament to stay in touch and listen to their constituents. Building trust and transparency leads to stronger more representative governments and reduces corruption. His CiviCRM (Constituent Relationship Management) project makes it easier for MPs to engage constituents, understand their needs, and effectively serve them. Through these efforts, Tunisians are better able to see what government is doing.
Interaction between elected officials and their constituents is key to implement a genuine democracy where politicians are accountable to their constituents and have popular legitimacy. However, in a nascent democracy like Tunisia, political parties’ interaction with their partisans is a challenge. This, to a large extent, explains why a large number of Tunisians have lost trust in their political parties according to Sigma Conseil (1). The survey made by the same consultant in April 2016 reveals that ‘77% of Tunisians have no intention to vote in the coming municipal election’. Other research conducted by The University of Maryland in January 2016 confirmed that 4 over 5 Tunisians don’t trust the political parties. In response, a number of local and international NGOs are working on addressing this problem by advocating for better communication and interaction with both sides; Political parties and citizens. The National Democratic Institute (NDI), for example, is currently providing training on communication to a wide range of Tunisian MPs. This should help design better communication strategy for MPs when they talk in the media or make public statements in meeting with their local communities. However, maintaining a sustainable and personalized communication that constituent need, requires smarter and more sophisticated solutions. Technology can be the answer: In Tunisia, over 60% of the population is an active internet user, 5.7 out of 11.8 million have an active Facebook account . This give more reason to believe that implementing a CRM system for Tunisian MPs and political parties should have a significant positive impact not only on the relationship between political parties and citizens but on politics in general in Tunisia.
The Professional Fellows Program (PFP) links community leaders from the United States and four countries in North Africa. It is a two-way citizen exchange program designed as a capacity-building and professional development initiative that serves civil society development in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The program is for early- to mid-career professionals with strong leadership skills, who are committed to making a lasting positive impact through their work in the civil society (NGO) sector.
- Sigma conseil (2016), Political Barometer http://www.sigma.tn/upload/1462438681.pdf [accessed 5/10/2016]