Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Tunisians Protest IMF-Led Austerity

Tunisians took to the streets this week against food shortages and price hikes on fuel. This comes as resistance to austerity is growing internationally.

Samuel Karlin

September 30, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share

Hundreds of Tunisians took to the streets on September 25 in opposition to inflation and food shortages. The North African country has already been undergoing massive protests for a year against President Kais Saied’s power grab. The costs of living protests in Tunisia are part of a growing opposition to austerity throughout the Global South.

At the direction of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Tunisian government raised fuel prices for the fourth time this year. The recent price hike on cooking gas cylinders was the first of its kind in 12 years. The 14 percent increase sparked protests in the working class Douar Hicher district of the country’s capital. The protesters raised bread in the air, burned tires, and chanted “Where is Kais Saied?”

Tunisia has been the site of dynamic class struggle for the last decade. Since 2011, the IMF has been squeezing the Tunisian working class, pressuring the government to erode food and energy public subsidies, especially on wheat. This is important historically because of the 1983-84 bread riots, which were also the result of an IMF austerity program.

In 2011 Tunisians overthrew their former dictator, Ben Ali, during the Arab Spring. The elections that followed brought Ennahdha to power, an Islamist Muslim Brotherhood party that continued many of the same policies of Ben Ali and allowed many of the same officials to rule. This new regime has been unsuccessful at fully co-opting or suppressing the demands of the Tunisian working class and poor. It has maintained austerity measures at the direction of the IMF and attempted to maintain power through police violence. In 2021 President Saied enacted a coup in which he suspended parliament and dismissed the country’s prime minister. Earlier this year Saied passed a new constitution for the country which solidifies executive power in the president.

Along with these political crises, North Africa is one of the regions most at risk of famine due to the compounding crises of recession, supply chain disruptions fueled by the war in Ukraine, and worsening climate change. Sugar in particular is scarce in the country, leading protesters to chant “Where is the sugar?” Tunisians have used social media to highlight the empty shelves at supermarkets and many have reported they spend hours searching for sugar as well as milk, butter, cooking oil, and rice.

Riot police responded to protests with tear gas, but police violence is unlikely to deter protesters who have already spent years resisting state violence with working class methods. Along with protesting in the streets, public sector workers in Tunisia have experience striking to fight for their demands.

Tunisians are not alone. From Haiti and Argentina to Ghana and Indonesia, countries around the world subjugated by imperialism are resisting the class warfare of the IMF and their national bourgeois governments. As the world heads into a recession, class struggle is on the rise. It is essential for workers and socialists to show solidarity with uprisings against austerity whenever and wherever they happen. Protests will become more powerful if the leaders can unite their movements across borders, develop working class leadership, and coordinate struggles internationally.

One more popular demand Tunisian protesters have been chanting is “Jobs, freedom, and national dignity.” We take this further and demand jobs, freedom, and international dignity for the working class. Let the capitalists pay for their crises!

Facebook Twitter Share

Samuel Karlin

Samuel Karlin is a socialist with a background in journalism. He mainly writes for Left Voice about U.S. imperialism and international class struggle.

Middle East-Africa

Israel Begins Horrific Ground Invasion of Rafah, Reminding Everyone that Ethnic Cleansing was Always the Point

On Tuesday, Israel began its ground assault on Rafah, where over 1.5 million Gazans are sheltering after being displaced from their homes. The United States is continuing to enable Israel’s violence. The movement for Palestine still has the power to resist.

Sou Mi

May 8, 2024

U.S. Imperialism Is Pushing Tensions in the Middle East to a Boiling Point

U.S. Imperialism's support for Israel is driving the tensions behind Iran's attack and the escalations in the Middle East. It is all the more urgent for the working class to unite with the movement for Palestine against imperialism and chart a way out of the crisis in the region.

Samuel Karlin

April 15, 2024
Destruction in Gaza following Israeli invasion.

From Cease-Fire to Liberation

With over 30,000 dead and much of Gaza turned into rubble, a ceasefire is insufficient, even more so if it does not include an immediate and permanent withdrawal of all Israeli troops and an end to the siege on Gaza.

James Dennis Hoff

March 6, 2024

The United States Is Trapped in the Middle East

As a result of Israel’s offensive on Gaza, the United States is again becoming deeply entrenched in the Middle East. This is a humiliating blow to President Biden, who promised to reassert U.S. imperialism by moving away from direct involvement in the region.

Samuel Karlin

February 22, 2024


A sign for the University of California at Santa Cruz with a line of UAW signs in front of it

Dispatch from Day One of the UC Santa Cruz Picket Line for Palestine

Left Voice member and City University of New York worker Olivia traveled to Santa Cruz for UAW 4811’s historic strike to talk to workers. This is her dispatch from the first day of the strike.

Olivia Wood

May 22, 2024

CUNY Workers Should Support the Five Demands of the Student Encampment

As the PSC CUNY Delegate Assembly prepares to debate a vote to endorse the five demands of the CCNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment, members of CUNY on Strike offer the following rebuttal to the bureaucratic union leadership that has been trying to distance itself from the struggle against the genocide in Gaza. 

A Russian tank fires toward Kharkiv on the May 10 offensive against Ukraine.

Russia’s Offensive in Ukraine May Be a Turning Point in the War

Russia’s May 10 offensive in Ukraine may be a turning point in the dynamics of the war, and the specter of Ukraine’s defeat is exposing the cracks that divide the Western powers.

Claudia Cinatti

May 21, 2024
Signs and banners at the picket line in front of the UC Santa Cruz in May, 2024. UC student workers are beginning a historic strike for Palestine, against genocide.

University of California Student Workers Begin Historic Political Strike against Repression and Genocide

This week, student and postdoctoral workers at the University of California began a historic strike in response to the brutal, violent repression of students, faculty, and staff protesting for Palestine. The action marks an important escalation of the labor movement’s struggle in defense of Palestine and the right to protest.

Olivia Wood

May 21, 2024