Written by Eric Pichon
On 26 October 2014, Tunisian citizens will elect their “Representatives of the People”; this Parliamentary election will be followed by the presidential election on 23 November with a possible run-off on 28 December.
These elections are seen by many observers as an important landmark of the democratic transition, after the adoption of the new Constitution.
We have selected key resources and analyses to help you catch up with the technical details of the electoral process as well as Tunisia’s social and political background, which can influence the outcome and possible pitfalls of the vote.
A very good synthesis on the electoral process:
International Foundation for Electoral Systems. Elections in Tunisia: October 26 Parliamentary Election: Frequently Asked Questions. IFES FAQ, 20/10/2014, 10 p.
IFES FAQs answer most questions concerning the vote (electoral system, enrollment, financing, women’s participation, gender balance within the lists, …).
Tunisian President Marzouki on Elections, Economy, and Regional Stability, CFR Council on Foreign Relations (USA), 23/09/2014, video – transcript
Tunisian Confidence in Democracy Wanes. Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, 15/10/2014.
A survey conducted in April-May 2014 shows that:
democracy is preferable to other kinds of government for only 48% of Tunisians (they were 63% in 2012)
53 % think law should follow values of Islam
the institution with highest rates (95%) is the military, while religious leaders are rated positively by only 33%
Survey of Tunisian Public opinion June 22-July 1, 2014. IRI International Republican Institute (USA), 07/2014, 58 p.
This survey shows similar results – 1 Tunisian out of 4 think Tunisia’s current political system is a flawed democracy or not a democracy at all.
State of play of the democratic transition
Alexis Arieff. Political Transition in Tunisia Congressional Research Service (USA), 2014 [Regularly updated]
The evolution of citizen’s rights since the implementation of the new Constitution is debated in:
Ahmed Driss and Fadhel Blibech. The New Tunisian Constitution and Citizenship Rights. Arab Citizenship Review 5, 8/05/2014, 5 p.
The security sector and transitional justice are two pivotal sectors to assess the democratic transition:
Haykel Ben Mahfoudh. Security Sector Reform in Tunisia Three Years into the Democratic Transition. ARI Arab Reform Initiative, Security in Times of Transition, 07/2014, 16 p.
Luca Urech. Challenging History: The Power of Transitional Justice in Tunisia. The Fletcher School (USA), Al Nakhlah, 10/06/2014, 18 p.
Official texts and statement
A citizens’ initiative, Tunisie Electionnaire, aiming at helping Tunisians choose for whom to vote, also provides:
– links to official documents:
- The Tunisian Constitution (2014) in FR
- The electoral law (2014) in FR
- Law n°36 ( 8 July 2014) on the election dates (in Arabic)
– the list and websites of the political parties in competition
EN (unofficial) translations:
- Tunisia: Voting and Counting Procedural Manual for the Legislative and Presidential Elections of 2014 2014 (Unofficial Translation by the Carter Center)
- Tunisia: Regulation of the Independent High Authority for Elections N°2014-30 dated September 8, 2014 on Rules and Procedures of Polling and Sorting (Unofficial Translation by The Carter Center)
- Tunisia: Constitution of 26 January 2014 (Translated by UNDP and reviewed by International IDEA)
- Tunisia: Organic Law on Elections and Referenda adopted on 26 May 2014 (Unofficial Translation by International IDEA)
Several election observation missions will be dispatched; among others:
EU Election Observation Mission:
- the reports will be available here http://www.eueom.eu/ue-moe-tunisie-2014/rapports
EP Election Observation:
- the reports will be available here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/intcoop/election_observation/missions20142019_en.htm
African Union Election Observation Mission to be deployed in Tunisia, African Union, 1/10/2014.
In Tunisia, UN Chief commends African nation for “staying true to ideals” of Arab Spring. UN News Service Section, 10/10/2014.
IRI Announces Expert Delegation to Observe Tunisia’s Parliamentary Elections. IRI International Republican Institute (USA), 07/10/2014.
Cf also http://www.iri.org/countries-and-programs/middle-east-and-north-africa/tunisia, in particular IRI’s long-term observers’ reports:
- Tunisia Elections Dispatch No. 3: Pre-Election Period 20/10/2014
- Tunisia Elections Dispatch No. 2: Voter Registration 11/09/2014
- Tunisia Elections Dispatch No. 1: Voter Registration 29/07/2014
The Carter Center Commends Tunisia’s Electoral Authorities for Successful Voter and Candidate Registration and Encourages Increased Communication. The Carter Center (USA), 19/09/2014, 9 p.
“Lessons Learned from the 2011 Elections”: The relation between civil society and the ISIE Final Report. The Carter Center (USA), 10/2014, 17 p.
Sarah Mersch. Tunisia’s Uncertain Elections. Sada – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 8/10/2014.
Larbi Chouikha. En Tunisie, la peur d’un parlement ingouvernable. Orient XXI.info, 6/10/2014.
These two articles show that most citizens don’t know yet for whom to vote because of the proliferation of lists, and also because the candidates don’t address clearly the issues at stake for Tunisia (economy, governance, …). Suspicion of corruption also demotivates the electors.
Mohamed Bechri. Sidelining the Salafis in Tunisia. Fikra Forum, 13/06/2014.
According to polls, there is little support for Salafi political parties in Tunisia, this might be because Salafism is seen by Tunisians as linked to political violence and alien to their culture (Salafism is mostly spread by foreign Salafi media or leaders). Tunisian counterterrorism also target foreign financing for Salafi organisations, hence reducing their resources.
Anthony Dworkin. Tunisia’s elections and the consolidation of democracy. ECFR European Council on Foreign Relations (UK), Policy Memo, 20/10/2014, 8 p.
The author suggests the EU could better help Tunisia’s democratic transition by “helping to ensure that short-term economic measures do not hurt Tunisia’s worst-off people”; Helping Tunisia fight terrorism in a more accountable way ; Redoubling its efforts to promote educational and other exchanges with Tunisia’s people ; Providing investment to create jobs and improve services ; Offering itself as a partner in reform of the state”
The Tunisian Exception: Success and Limits of Consensus. ICG International Crisis Group, Middle East and North Africa Briefing 37, 5/06/2014, 20 p.
Adequate measures should be taken on social, economic and political level for the national compromise on democratisation to be preserved beyond the 2014 elections (full text in FR and AR)
In Tunisia, the type of government is a Unitary parliamentary republic. In Tunisia, the legislative power is vested in a Assembly of the Representatives of the People. The head of the government is Beji Caid Essebsi. The governmental structure of a country determines the manner in which laws are written, approved, and interpreted.