Just hours before Jebali handed in his resignation, the Standard & Poor's international ratings agency downgraded the government's credit rating for the third time since the revolution, specifically citing how the political instability was preventing an economic recovery.
It's not an isolated opinion. Chedli Ayari, the country's central bank governor, warned weeks earlier that the lack of political consensus was kneecapping a nascent economic recovery.
Ultimately a resurgent economy will be the key to social stability in a country that sees severe flare-ups of violence every few months — sometimes for political reasons, but always fueled by unemployed youth whose expectations were raised by the revolution. Some known as Salafis have turned to extremist Islam, and attacked people and institutions they have deemed impious, including the U.S. embassy on Sept. 14.
Jebali, whose star has risen in the country following his principled resignation, has left the way open to returning as prime minister — but only if his own party is ready to make compromises.
In the two years since the fall of Ben Ali, Tunisia's political class has repeatedly brought the country back from the brink and engaged in last-minute compromises, a flexibility lacking among its neighbors. The latest crisis will be the biggest test of that skill to date.
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