Tunisian Institutional Reform (Reform), a Tunisian non-governmental and non-profit organization pushing for institutional transparency and accountability within the security sector in Tunisia, conducted polls in April and May 2014 to determine attitudes of Tunisians toward the security situation and the security sector. There were two major purposes to this survey: to give a look at the hard numbers behind the general lack of security that is often felt within Tunisia, and to create a benchmark for the Tunisian security outlook that can be used comparatively with future surveys. Three polls were conducted via phone interviews, one in which 2400 people were contacted throughout the 24 governorates of Tunisia. The response rate to this poll was about 60%, and its margin of error is +/- 3%. Two other polls were conducted in the areas of Grand Tunis-Bizerte-Nabeul (TBN) and Gafsa- Sidi Bouzid-Kasserine (GSK), resulting in 461 and 387 answers, respectively. These surveys have a margin of error of +/-5%. All surveys have a 95% confidence level.
Within the course of the surveys, some interesting trends emerged. The majority of Tunisians, across regions, said that security was the number one priority, with 56% in the country-wide survey ranking it first. This is compared to the 28.9% who chose corruption and the 14.7% who said the economic situation is the most pressing.
These numbers were echoed in the regional surveys: in the TBN region 16.7% cited the economic situation as the most pressing, 52.5% said security, and 29.3% said corruption.
In the GSK region, the breakdown was 9.3% economic, 56% security, and 34.5% corruption.
The surveys also asked people to rate their perceptions of their own security. The whole-country survey shows that 8.7% feel very insecure, 9.5% feel insecure, 54.2% feel secure, and 27.6% feel very secure.
There was slightly more insecurity in the TBN region, where 11.3% feel insecure and 9.7% feel very insecure, and even more in the GSK region, where 10.1% feel insecure and 14% feel very insecure. Overall though, Tunisians feel things are likely to improve: 79.7% overall expressed optimism about the security situation, with 75.2% in the TBN region and 90.2% in the GSK region echoing that optimism.
In terms of the security entities themselves, the army still enjoys a great deal of trust from the populace, with 76% across the country calling it “very trustworthy.” This result was largely repeated in the regional surveys. Other security institutions did not fair quite as well, although public trust is still broad. The police were largely declared by the public to be “fairly trustworthy” or “very trustworthy” with 76.1% of Tunisians choosing one of these options.
These two responses garnered 74.3% in the TBN region and 77.7% in the GSK region, with fewer answering “very trustworthy” in TBN.
Trust in the civil police was much more ambiguous, with at least a fifth of respondents in each survey—and 28% of the country overall—saying they did not know if they trusted them or not. Finally, the National Guard enjoys high trust levels as well, with 84.7% across the country expressing that they are “fairly” or “very” trustworthy, and this number dipping slightly to 81% in TBN and rising to 85.2% in GSK.