Mouvement de L'unité Populaire (MUP)

views updated


tunisian political party in exile.

The Popular Unity Movement, formed by Ahmed Ben Salah in 1973, is ideologically socialist and personally hostile to former Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba. In the 1960s Ben Salah developed socialist planning as Tunisia's economic system. Disastrous attempts to collectivize agriculture led to his fall in 1969. Tried and imprisoned, he escaped from the country in 1973 and remains in exile. Little support exists for the party within Tunisia; most supporters are Tunisian expatriates living in Europe. The party still adheres to a staunchly socialist, state-managed economic program.

MUP attitudes toward the Bourguiba regime were highly personalized as a result of a contest of wills between Bourguiba and Ben Salah. The latter's refusal to participate in Tunisia's elections (which became somewhat more liberal after 1980) disillusioned many of the party's members, who consequently condoned a split in the party in 1981. A more flexible MUP emerged and renamed itself the Parti d'Unité Populaire (Popular Unity Party [PUP]). Under Mohamed Belhaj Amor, the PUP retained its earlier socialist and nationalist orientation but ended Ben Salah's personal vendetta against Bourguiba. The party adopted a more flexible approach to participation in the political process. Following the 1988 political liberalization under President Zayn al-Abdine Ben Ali, PUP became one of seven legal parties in Tunisia.

From 1983 on the MUP had been trying to obtain legal recognition, but without success, given the regime's refusal to reintegrate Ben Salah into the Tunisian political scene. In 1990 some members of the party participated in the legislative elections as independent candidates.

see also ben salah, ahmed; bourguiba, habib; parti d'unitÉ populaire (pup).


Murphy, Emma. Economic and Political Change in Tunisia: From Bourguiba to Ben Ali. New York: St. Martin's in association with University of Durham, 1999.

Perkins, Kenneth J. Historical Dictionary of Tunisia, 2d edition. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1997.

larry a. barrie
updated by ana torres-garcia

About this article

Mouvement de L'unité Populaire (MUP)

Updated About content Print Article