Movement of Renewal

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formerly the tunisian communist party.

Founded as an offshoot of the French Communist party in 1920, the Parti Communiste Tunisien (Tunisian Communist Party, PCT) broke with the French party in 1934. It remained legal after Tunisia gained its independence in 1956 but was banned by President Habib Bourguiba in 1963. In 1981, however, Bourguiba legalized the PCT in order to offset the growing influence of the Islamist movement, and in 1988 the party signed Zayn alAbidine Ben Ali's National Pact. PCT influence remained marginal, and the party has never succeeded in capturing the imagination of Tunisia's young people.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 dealt the PCT a heavy blow. General Secretary Mohammed Harmel (head of the party since 1981) sought to capitalize on the Ben Ali "regime of change" by renaming the PCT the Mouvement Ettajdid (Movement of Renewal; in Arabic, Harakat al-Tajdid) and emphasizing the party's reformist credentials during its tenth national congress on 23 April 1993. The publication of the party's tabloid, al-Tariq al-Jadid (The new path), was suspended between 1989 and 1993, when it re-emerged as a monthly magazine.

Currently, Ettajdid is one of the five opposition parties represented in the Tunisian parliament. In the 1999 elections, the party obtained 2.74 percent of the vote and five seats. That same year, Ettajdid supported Ben Ali's candidacy in the presidential elections. However, in 2002 it abstained from voting on a proposed referendum on constitutional reform, initially calling for nonparticipation and later asking for a "cleaning up of the political climate" and a general amnesty for political prisoners before the referendum. The FebruaryMarch 2003 issue of al-Tariq al-Jadid was seized by authorities because it contained articles critical of the proposed constitutional reforms.

see also ben ali, zayn al-abidine; bourguiba, habib; communism in the middle east; tunisia: overview.


Alexander, Christopher. "Back from the Democratic Brink: Authoritarianism and Civil Society in Tunisia." Middle East Report no. 205 (1997): 3438.

Perkins, Kenneth J. Historical Dictionary of Tunisia. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1989.

larry a. barrie
updated by vanesa casanova-fernandez

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Movement of Renewal

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