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The first Islamist party to take power following revolutions across the Arab world has found navigating the politics of power as tricky as enduring the politics of exile. Since it took power last year, Tunisia's Nahda party has walked a tightrope between the competing demands of secularists, radical Islamists, international business people and labour unions, as well as its noisy, left-leaning coalition partners.
Meanwhile the country has been riven with strikes and ideological showdowns between Islamists and liberals. Banned by the former regime, the Nahda party under its leader Rachid Ghannouchi spent years in exile crafting a temperate brand of Islamic politics that stressed the promotion of universal values rather than the imposition of rules. But its ability to implement this vision is constrained by the political and economic realities of Tunisia.
This week, Nahda averted a possible revolt by the country's secularists by agreeing to eliminate any reference to Islamic, or sharia, law in the preamble to the new constitution that it is taking a lead role in drawing up. At a press conference, Mr Ghannouchi stressed national unity over Nahda's own religious philosophy.
"We do not want Tunisian society to be divided into two ideologically opposed camps - one pro-Sharia and one anti-Sharia," he said. "We want above all a constitution that is for all Tunisians, whatever their convictions."
Nahda's challenges were highlighted in recent weeks when Prime Minister Hamadi Jabali, a leading Nahda figure who spent 11 years in solitary confinement under the previous regime of Zein el-Abidine Ben Ali, was criticised by both secularists and Islamists for reappointing veterans of the previous regime to head state media organs.
Critics complained when the state media then glossed over rowdy protests against Mr Jabali and Moncef Marzouki, the president, during their visit to the impoverished city of Kasserine.
Some analysts ascribe the clumsy attempts at image management more to Nahda's inexperience than any effort to roll back the spirit of the revolution that paved the way for their October 2011 election victory.
"The election was about a political and symbolic break with the previous regime," said an official of a western organisation in Tunis. "That means that all the politicians are first-timers."
The party was put on the spot again this month when a member of the ultraconservative Salafist movement stunned the nation by ripping down the Tunisian flag and raising an Islamic banner during a campus protest.
"I think it's not very comfortable, but they have to deal with this," Dr Marzouki, a left-leaning former human rights activist, said in a recent interview. "Because when you are in power you have to reach agreements with your enemy, with your friends, with your partner."
Responding to nationwide public outrage at the Salafists, Nahda quickly condemned the flag incident. But critics accuse the party of appeasing the extremists because it has refused to rule out their vision for an austere Islamic state.
Many called Nahda's move to retain the current constitution's preamble, describing Tunisia as an Islamic, Arabic speaking and republican nation without referencing sharia law, a politically astute manoeuvre.
But Nahda may have to appease its right flank at some point. Even as secularists and liberals fearful of Nahda's religious agenda pressure the party, Salafists demanding an Islamic state are slowly eating into its political base. During the last election Nahda benefited because Salafist parties either decided not to run or were barred from taking part in the poll. But the Tahrir Party, one Salafist grouping, remains a political force and has issued a 190-article proposed constitution based on Islamic law.
"Nahda sees Islam differently than we do," said Abdelmajid Habibi, secretary-general of Tahrir. "We're a political party based on Islam and we want a system based on Islam."
Nahda officials say it's dangerous to push the Salafists out of the political scene and exclude their voice from the dialogue. "You don't fear Salafists who are in the government, you tell them let's have a political dialogue," said Abdelhamid Jlassi, a chief Nahda strategist. "Let's try to solve this thing by political means. Those you can't convince, you isolate."
Despite the ideological pressures, even Nahda's critics contend the party's leaders have managed adequately - if not deftly - by keeping the civil service functioning and avoiding any political reprisals against those who served in the previous regime.
But creating jobs for unemployed youth and recent college graduates remains the country's most pressing challenge. Nahda's leaders have been struggling to convince sceptical European and other investors that the new Tunisia is a stable, transparent and potentially profitable enough place to do business, although on Thursday they received a boost when Hillary Clinton, US secretary of State, announced that Washington would give Tunisia USD100m to pay off debts to the World Bank and African Development Bank.
"Nahda promised work," said Rashida al-Naifer, a professor of law at the University of Tunis. "The people who voted for Nahda voted against those previously in power and for those who promised to ameliorate social problems. They didn't vote for an ideological project."