Free Patriotic Union

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Free Patriotic Union
الاتحاد الوطني الحرّ
fr name Union patriotique libre
Chairperson Slim Riahi
Founded 19 May 2011; 6 years ago (2011-05-19)
Headquarters Immeuble Forum du Lac
Les Berges du Lac
1053 Tunis
Newspaper Tounès El Horra
Ideology Economic liberalism
Secularism[1]
Political position Centre-right[2]
International affiliation None
Colours      Red
Assembly of the Representatives of the People
16 / 217
Website
www.upl.tn/ar/

The Free Patriotic Union (Arabic: الاتحاد الوطني الحرّ‎, translit. el-Itiḥād el-Waṭanī el-Ḥurr; French: Union patriotique libre), known by its French acronym UPL, is a political party in Tunisia.

History and profile[edit]

Established in May 2011 as Union patriotique libérale and renamed to Union patriotique libre in June 2011, the party was founded and has been led by the British-Tunisian petroleum entrepreneur Slim Riahi who had been raised in his family's Libyan exile and had returned from London right after the Tunisian revolution in January 2011.[3][4]

The party proposes free-market economy and a modern society and rejects Islamism.[5]

The UPL has mainly been noted for its expensive and lavish electoral campaign. It has offered bus trips to party rallies to potential voters. As opposed to most other parties that rely on the voluntary commitment of their members, the Free Patriotic Union can afford to pay its candidates and campaigners. This has earned the party the accusation of "buying" candidates and supporters.[6] Party leader's Riahi decision to buy 20% of the Dar Assabah media group raised suspicions of mixing business interests with political activity.[7] At the same time, the party came into conflict with Tunisia's Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE) because it continued its advertising campaign from 12 to 30 September, ignoring ISIE's ban of canvassing during this period.[6]

In the parliamentary election in October 2011, the party received only 1.26% of the votes. However, in the Siliana district, the party managed to receive 6.3% of the votes and Noureddine Mrabti won the party's only seat for the Constituent Assembly. Together with twelve defectors from the Aridha Chaabia list, Mrabti founded the Liberty and democracy parliamentary group, which was later reorganized into the Democratic transition parliamentary group. However, only Hanène Sassi remained a permanent member of the party.

On 7 March 2013, it was announced that to create a new "centrist party of socialist-liberal orientation", seven minor parties decided to join forces with the UPL: the Third Alternative Party, the Modern Left Party, the Citizenship Movement, the Tunisian Liberal Party, the Social-Democratic Alternative, the Citizenship and Justice Party, and the Path of Will Party.[8]

For the parliamentary election in October 2014, the party submitted lists to all 33 electoral districts. With 4.02% of the votes it managed to win 16 of the 217 seats in the Assembly of the Representatives, making it the third largest parliamentary group right after the two dominant parties Nidaa Tounes and Ennahda.

Resignations[edit]

In April 2016, UPL president Slim Riahi accused former UPL secretary general and current Minister of Youth and Sport Mehdi Ben Dhia of being to lax towards the Tunisian Football Federation, after the Riahi's Club Africain lost to Etoile Sportive du Sahel. Ben Dhia left the UPL after Riahi unsuccessfully called on Prime Minister Essid to replace him as minister. Later in May, the UPL lost three more deputies to Nidaa Tounes. The party subsequently announced it would "suspend its activities" in the coalition government.[9]

Following a party meeting on 22 May in Sousse, Hatem El Euchi was appointed the party's new secretary general. Jamel Tlili who, obviously in absence, was appointed the new deputy secretary general, resigned within 24 hours from the party, claiming he had not even been made aware of his appointment or nomination. Two days later, executive director Samir Maghraoui also resigned from the UPL criticizing Riahi for "considering the party a one-man project".[10]

In June, resigned UPL member Tlili accused Riahi and the UPL ministers Deriouche and El Euchi of "systemic corruption".[11] Because of the corruption allegations, MP Taher Foudhil announced his resignation from the FPU later in August.[12]

Election results[edit]

Election year # of total votes % of overall vote # of seats
Constituent Assembly of Tunisia
2011 51,655 1,26%
1 / 217
Assembly of the Representatives of the People
2014 137,110 4,02%
16 / 217

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bollier, Sam (9 October 2011), "Who are Tunisia's political parties?", Al Jazeera English, retrieved 22 October 2011 
  2. ^ Chrisafis, Angelique (19 October 2011), "Tunisia's political parties" (PDF), The Guardian, retrieved 24 October 2011 
  3. ^ Gamha, Eymen (3 October 2011), "Free Patriotic Union", Tunisia-live, archived from the original on 9 March 2012, retrieved 23 October 2011 
  4. ^ Afef Abrougui (19 April 2014). "Tunisian media in flux since revolution". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Bollier, Sam (9 October 2011), "Who are Tunisia's political parties?", Al Jazeera English, retrieved 22 October 2011 
  6. ^ a b Yasmine Ryan (21 October 2011), "Tunisian newcomer spends big on campaign", Al Jazeera English, retrieved 23 October 2011 
  7. ^ Eileen Byrne (27 September 2011), "Tunisia party runs into controversy", Financial Times, retrieved 23 October 2011 
  8. ^ In French: le parti Troisième alternative, le parti de la Gauche moderne, le Mouvement citoyenneté, le Parti tunisien des libéraux, l'Alternative social-démocrate, le parti Citoyenneté et Justice et le parti Voie de la volonté. Tunisie : Une nouvelle fusion pour créer un grand parti d'orientation libérale
  9. ^ "UPL Suspends Activities in Tunisia's Coalition Government in Latest Secular Party Squabble". Tunisia-tn.com. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2016. 
  10. ^ "Resignations From Slim Riahi's UPL Party Continue Unabated". Tunisia-tn.com. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2016. 
  11. ^ "UPL: Two Cabinet Ministers and Slim Riahi Accused of Systemic Corruption". Tunisia-tn.com. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2016. 
  12. ^ "Taher Foudhil quits UPL". Agence Tunis Afrique Presse. 26 August 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2016. 

External links[edit]