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Waging Peace

In December 2010, a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire to protest harassment by local officials, touching off a revolution that toppled the repressive government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and spawning pro-democracy protests throughout the Arab world. The Carter Center has worked in Tunisia since 2011, monitoring elections and the country's constitution-drafting process and overseeing a variety of projects to help strengthen the country’s democratic institutions.

+Monitoring Elections

In 2011, The Carter Center was invited to observe the election of the Constituent Assembly responsible for drafting the country's new constitution. Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and former Mauritius President Cassam Uteem co-led that election mission.

Afterward, The Carter Center remained in Tunisia to follow the constitution-drafting process and developments related to establishing institutional and legal frameworks for subsequent elections. It issued public recommendations to help bring the constitution and electoral legislation into greater alignment with Tunisia's international obligations for civil and political rights.

In 2014, the Center deployed teams of long-term and short-term observers to monitor the first presidential and parliamentary elections since the ouster of Ben Ali. Though there were minor irregularities at some polling locations, the team found that on the whole, the elections were calm, orderly, and transparent.

After the elections, the Center collaborated with international and Tunisian partners on outreach activities related to democratic election standards, including a series of training activities to help support civil society organizations monitor elections. With local partners, it organized focus groups to learn more about women and youth participation in

elections and undertook projects to encourage young people to engage with elected officials at the municipal level.

In the fall of 2019, The Carter Center sent a team of more than 90 observers to the presidential and parliamentary elections, including the presidential runoff. The elections were challenging for Tunisia’s election commission because President Beji Caïd Essebsi died in office in July, forcing it to move up the original presidential election by about two months and to organize three elections in less than a month. Despite the compressed time frame, observers reported that all three elections went smoothly, with only minor flaws.

The Center continues to maintain an office in Tunis, partnering with local civil society organizations on several democracy-strengthening projects.

Related Resources

Read the Center's public statements and main findings here.

View Carter Center election reports for Tunisia >

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Size: 163,610 square kilometers

Population: 11,721,177

Population below poverty line: 15.5%

Life expectancy: 76.3 years

Ethnic groups: Arab, European, Jewish, and others

Religions: Muslim (official; Sunni), Christian, Jewish, Shia Muslim, Baha'i  

Languages: Arabic (official, one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce), Berber (Tamazight)

Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2020 


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