Post-election Statement: Low Turnout in Tunisia Election Reaffirms Need for Broad-Based Consensus

(en français) (بالعربية)

TUNIS, TUNISIA (Feb. 1, 2023) — The Jan. 29 runoff election for Tunisia’s parliament again failed to motivate voters, underscoring the Tunisian people’s rejection of the political process initiated by the president on July 25, 2021.

Historically low turnout, for the second time in two months, reaffirms the need for all Tunisian stakeholders to engage in an inclusive and transparent national dialogue to reset the country’s stalled democratic transition and to find consensus on solutions to the country’s political, economic, and social problems.

Tunisia’s faint voter participation — about 11% in both rounds — marks a low point in its democratic transition, which was derailed when the president took control of all levers of power in July 2021. Political and civil society leaders, as well as newly elected parliamentarians, should seek a broad-based consensus to return the country to a democratic path.

Although the president said he was responding to the failure of parliament to address the social and economic issues that have plagued the country since the 2011 Jasmine Revolution, the noninclusive process altered the country’s constitution, adopted in 2014. The president demonized those who opposed these changes and targeted various state institutions, undermining the structures that underpin a true democratic state. Constitutional amendments enacted in August 2022 enhanced the president’s powers and reduced those of the legislative branch and should be reviewed.

The Center is encouraged by the new initiative organized by the UGTT, Tunisia’s largest labor union, the Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH), the Tunisia Bar Association, and the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) to engage in national dialogue. Additionally, several newly elected members of parliament are forming a parliamentary coalition centered on a reform agenda that includes amending the 2022 constitution, supporting the immediate establishment of the Constitutional Court, reforming the electoral law and political system, and amending Decree Law 54, which limits freedom of speech.

The Center renews its recommendations made after the first round of the election and urges the newly elected parliament to engage with those actors who have started the national dialogue initiative and urgently address the following issues:

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

The Tunisian people deserve a transparent government that seeks to address the pressing political, economic, and social issues that prompted the revolution. Tunisia’s leaders must deliver on these aspirations and return Tunisia to the democratic path it embarked on in 2011.    


The Carter Center has maintained a presence in Tunisia since 2011 and was accredited by the High Independent Authority for Elections (known by its French acronym, the ISIE) to observe the votes. The Center 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 14 long-term observers in October and more than 60 short-term election observers in December across all 24 governorates. For the second round, in January, the Center conducted a limited observation without short-term observers. The Center did not note any major irregularities on election day during the second round.

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 observed the 2011 National Constituent Assembly elections, the 2014 and 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections, and the process that resulted in the adoption of the 2014 constitution.


Déclaration post-électorale : la faible participation aux élections en Tunisie confirme la nécessité d'un large consensus

بيان ما بعد ا ل د مجدّدا الحاجة إلى تو افق واسعّنتخابات: ضعف الإقبال على النتخابات التونسية ي


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

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.

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