Historically Low Turnout in Tunisia’s Parliamentary Election Confirms Need for Renewed Dialogue

(بالعربية) (en français)

TUNIS, TUNISIA (Dec. 19, 2022) — In a preliminary statement released today, The Carter Center called upon all Tunisian stakeholders to put aside their differences and engage in a truly inclusive and transparent national dialogue to reset the country’s stalled democratic transition.

Just 8.8% of the country’s eligible voters voted in the Dec. 17 parliamentary elections, an historically low turnout that reflects the Tunisian people’s disillusionment with the current political and economic situation and that suggests that the presidential roadmap announced in December 2021 has not succeeded in uniting the country. 

The Carter Center, which has been engaged in Tunisia since 2011, launched an election observation mission in June 2022 with a small core team of experts. The expert team assessed the July 25 referendum, and for the Dec. 17 parliamentary elections, the Center deployed more than 60 election observers who visited 308 polling stations across all 24 governorates.

The Center’s observation mission found that while the election was technically well-administered, the process underlying the framework for the elections lacked legitimacy and fell short of international and regional standards and obligations.

When the president took control of all levers of power on July 25, 2021, he was responding to the widely shared sense that parliament had failed to address the social and economic issues that fomented the Jasmine Revolution in 2011. But unlike the inclusive processes that followed the revolution and led to the 2014 constitution, the closely controlled process that produced the new constitution lacked broad-based consensus. It was conducted in a compressed timeframe without the opportunity for public debate and was approved in a referendum with just 30.5% turnout.

The new electoral system under which the parliamentary elections were held was created by the president through decree laws. Many Tunisian citizen observer groups criticized the electoral law, noting it was not drafted in a participatory way involving key Tunisian stakeholders and created an electoral system that further hindered the participation of women and youth.

Because of the way both the constitution and the electoral law were drafted, many political parties, civil society organizations, and other groups called for a boycott of the elections. In addition, many Tunisians were not familiar with the candidates or the new electoral structures and may not have voted for that reason.

The flawed process leading up to the election and the low turnout on election day reinforce the need to embark on a different path to address the hopes and dreams of the Tunisian people expressed during the revolution and fulfill their aspirations for a more inclusive democracy and economic prosperity.

The Center recommends that the president establish the constitutional court immediately and that Tunisian leaders engage in a broad-based, inclusive consultation that addresses the flaws in the 2022 constitution and the decree laws issued by the president since July 25, 2021. Among the issues that should be addressed are:

  • The need for a new electoral law and electoral system that will reestablish an independent electoral body and result in effective national policymaking.
  • The establishment of policies that address issues such as corruption, security sector reform, and public administration.
  • The reestablishment of the balance of power between the executive, parliamentary, and judiciary branches.
  • Increased voter and civic education to engage the public in national dialogue consultations and reforms that will impact their daily lives.
  • Steps to strengthen political parties and increase internal party democracy, resulting in more effective political party representation, including by women, youth, and marginalized populations.  

Tunisia’s path forward begins with leaders putting the country’s needs ahead of their own and responding to the people’s desire for economic development, responsive government, and genuine democracy.


The Carter Center was accredited by The High Independent Authority for the Elections (known by its French acronym, the ISIE) to observe the elections and deployed more than 60 observers from 26 countries who visited 308 unique polling stations as well as the 27 tabulation centers on election day.

The Center deployed a core team in June 2022 and 14 long-term observers in mid-October. The objectives of its observation in Tunisia are to provide an impartial assessment of the overall quality of the electoral process, promote an inclusive process for all Tunisians, and demonstrate support for its democratic transition.

The Carter Center is assessing the electoral process against the Tunisian Constitution, the domestic electoral framework, and obligations and standards derived from regional and international treaties, interpretive bodies, and state practice. Its observation mission is conducted in accordance with the 2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.

The Center has had a presence in Tunisia since 2011. It observed the 2011 National Constituent Assembly elections, the 2014 and 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections, and the constitution-making process that resulted in the adoption of the 2014 constitution.

Contact: In Atlanta, Maria Cartaya,
In Tunis, Don Bisson,


Carter Center Preliminary Statement on Tunisia’s 2022 Parliamentary Elections (PDF)


ضعف إقبال تاريخيّ على الانتخابات البرلمانيّة في تونس يؤكّد الحاجة إلى تجديد الحوار

البيان الأولي لمركز كارتر حول الانتخابات التشريعية التونسية لسنة 2022

Le taux de participation historiquement bas aux élections législatives en Tunisie confirme la nécessité d'un dialogue renouvelé

Déclaration préliminaire du Centre Carter sur les élections législatives de 2022 en Tunisie

The Carter Center
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.