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Tunisia protests: What's at stake?

Tunisia is seen as the only democratic success story among the Arab Spring nations where revolts took place in 2011. But a series of nationwide protests has called into question the country's stability.

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Tunisia protests: What's at stake?

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Protests to mark the anniversary of Tunisia's 2011 uprising which saw the overthrow of autocrat ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali are not uncommon in January. But Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Tunisia and a scholar at Carnegie Europe, believes other factors are coming into play this time.

He says the return of the old guard with some of the ministers from the Ben Ali era and the suspension of corruption investigations and trials are fuelling the demonstrations.

"People have political reasons to worry about and also you have municipal elections looming where the Islamist party Ennahdha is in better shape than the traditional parties," he explains. "So people are also worried about the orientation of society."

In Europe and elsewhere, there are concerns about Tunisia's stability. The country was seen as the only democratic success story among the Arab Spring nations.

"For Europe, and the United States as well, Tunisia is this one single gem in the Arab revolution. It's the only country that has managed to proceed with constitutional reform and with elections," says Pierini. "So it has been going from this side and this side, but overall it has been rather peaceful over these years. The problem is that to the 'have-nots' this looks like an endless process and now people are worried that, as before, the richer will get richer."

So far the protests have been on a less grander scale than those nine years ago. But those confrontations also started small before they began escalating.