Carter Center Releases Final Report on 2019 Tunisian Elections and Urges Parliament to Create Permanent Independent Bodies

(En français)

TUNIS, TUNISIA (July 1, 2020) — The Carter Center issued its final report on the 2019 elections this week, highlighting both the Tunisian people’s ability to overcome potentially challenging political circumstances and the election commission’s remarkable work to conduct credible elections under a tight timeframe following the president’s death in office.

The Center is now urging parliament to take immediate steps to establish the constitutional court and the independent constitutional bodies.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has further highlighted the importance of these bodies. The pandemic may have justified the decision to adopt exceptional measures and give the prime minister authority to issue decree laws, but the manner in which that decision was made did not promote the rule of law and could undermine the legality of any action taken under those measures (which were repealed June 3). The absence of the constitutional court added to this legal uncertainty, as without it, stakeholders were left with no avenue for challenging the procedure used to adopt these measures.

The need for a functioning constitutional court was also apparent on May 6, when the Parliamentary Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunity, Parliamentary Laws, and Election Laws adopted an amendment to Article 45 of parliament’s rules of procedure that severely sanctioned "parliamentary or partisan tourism." The final version of the amendment states that “if a member of parliament resigns from the party, list, or electoral coalition from which they were elected, or if they resign from the parliamentary bloc which they had joined, they automatically lose their membership in parliament and are replaced by the next candidate on the list.”

Although the amendment has yet to be considered in a plenary session, several parties and legal scholars have raised questions about its constitutionality. In addition, it is unclear if such a significant change can be accomplished through an amendment to the procedural rules rather than through an amendment of the electoral framework or the constitution itself. Without a functioning constitutional court, there is no legitimate forum to resolve these issues.

In order to fully respect the rights and freedoms enshrined in Tunisia’s 2014 Constitution, The Carter Center encourages parliament to operate within the bounds of the established rules and the law, and move forward quickly to nominate members to the constitutional court and adopt the necessary legislation to support the creation and work of the five constitutionally mandated independent bodies. These are: the High Independent Authority for the Elections, the Audiovisual Communication Authority, the National Authority on Good Governance and Fight Against Corruption, the Authority on Human Rights, and the Authority for Sustainable Development and the Rights of Future Generations.

Parliament has not prioritized the creation of these institutions and continues to procrastinate on taking necessary steps to facilitate their functioning. For example, parliament’s Freedom and External Relations Committee is considering amendments to the decree law that set up the Independent High Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HAICA). The HAICA Council and 16 civil society organizations have condemned the proposed legislation as an attempt to control the media sector. Many media outlets and journalists have also criticized the draft bill. The Carter Center encourages lawmakers to prioritize creating the legislative framework for the HAICA’s permanent successor rather than amending the current decree law to preserve and prolong the HAICA’s mandate, as it was envisioned as a temporary structure.

Final Report

The Center’s final report assessed all three polls as orderly and peaceful, with only minor irregularities. The High Independent Authority for the Elections (known by its French acronym, the ISIE) carried out a successful voter registration drive that added 1,455,898 new voters. Candidate registration was conducted in a professional and efficient manner by the election administration.

However, the Center found that the 2019 elections suffered from a general lack of transparency on the part of electoral authorities and other institutions. In addition, the electoral process was marred by last-minute attempts to restrict the right to stand in the presidential race and the detention of one of the candidates on charges that had been pending since 2016, raising questions of political interference in the judicial system.

The report urges electoral authorities and political parties to prioritize electoral reform and work together to implement the necessary changes to the electoral process based on lessons learned from the 2019 elections and the recommendations of domestic and international election observers. The Center stands ready to work with the parliament, electoral authorities, civil society, and political parties on this.

Some of the main recommendations in the Center’s final report are:

  1. The ISIE should increase transparency in all aspects of its work, including by publishing the results of council votes and the reasons for taking decisions; posting information on the ISIE website, including the minutes of meetings, in a timely manner; explaining the process used to check endorsements and the reasons for denying nomination papers; and publicly reporting campaign violation information collected by ISIE monitors, including those monitoring social media.
  2. The ISIE should make contact with social media platforms, especially Facebook, before the next electoral cycle begins to establish a relationship to exchange information about the maintenance of a proper ad library for Tunisia; ensure that Tunisian electoral law as it relates to periods of silence and the use of social media in campaigning is respected; and establish a mechanism for the ISIE to publish information on the number and cost of political ads.
  3. The parliament should draft and pass a law on electoral boundary delimitation and criteria for allocation of seats that relies on the latest available census data in order to more fully respect the principle of equality of the vote by addressing the large gap between electoral quotients for obtaining seats in small and large constituencies.
  4. The parliament should urgently move forward to elect the remaining members of the Constitutional Court and to establish the necessary legal framework and appoint members of the independent bodies mandated by the constitution.
  5. The courts, in order to increase public trust in the judiciary and to ensure the right to an effective remedy, should be more transparent in making both electoral complaints and judgments public.
  6. The ISIE, civil society organizations, and political parties should increase voter education efforts in order to increase voter turnout, especially among marginalized groups.


Élections Présidentielles et Legislatives 2019 en Tunisie – Rapport Final

ييصدر مركز كارتر تقريره النهائي حول الانتخابات التونسية لسنة 2019 ويحث البرلمان على إرساء هيئات مستقلة دائمة
التقرير الأخير | خبر صحفى

Contact: Soyia Ellison, associate communications director,
Don Bisson, mission director,

Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope.
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

Donate Now

Sign Up For Email

Please sign up below for important news about the work of The Carter Center and special event invitations.

Please leave this field empty
Now, we invite you to Get Involved
Back To Top