Leadership or Tyranny?

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Leadership or Tyranny?

Summary:
Within just 28 days, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had no alternative but to step down from his 23-year presidency in Tunisia. A single spark set by Mohamed Bouazizi turned out to be a prairie fire across the whole country.

Economic Growth Paradox
Although the economy of Tunisia has been growing steady at an average rate of 5% for the past 23 years, the unemployment rate has been standing at over 10% since 2003, which is indeed alarmingly high.

The rate is double for the young Tunisians, and even higher for the fresh graduates. A recent survey has shown that the unemployment rate stands at 25% and 44% for male graduates and female graduates respectively. If the economy is growing every year, why are there so many people out of job and struggling to survive against serious inflation? What is going on behind the scene?

Surrender to Dictatorship
In addition to the economic factors, the political situation in Tunisia has played a crucial role in this Jasmine Revolution. The Tunisians have been silent for years: minimal (if any) freedom of speech, deprivation of other political rights and stringent censorship over information and the press. Rampant corruption at the top tier level of the Ben Ali regime, as revealed by Wikileaks, is another burning issue.

On the other hand, the Tunisians had to confront the unreliable and abusive police force from the government. Instead of being protected by the local police force, Bouazizi (who was operating as an unlicensed hawker) had his produce confiscated and his subsequent complaints entirely ignored, which eventually led to his self-immolation.

Transactional Leadership
The exchange relationship between the Ben Ali government and the citizens in Tunisia did not seem to be balanced. Prior to a series of protests and demonstrations and subsequent abdication of Ben Ali, the Tunisians had been resigned to the dictatorship of Ben Ali in exchange of a decent life. However, are the...
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