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The Carter Center Commends Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly for Electoral Reforms; Urges further Improvements in Draft Legislation

Contact: In Atlanta, Deborah Hakes
In Tunis, Baya Kara +216 21767800 or

Read the full report (PDF) >

The Carter Center commends Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly for its efforts to advance electoral reform. The draft legislation under consideration in the assembly makes improvements in Tunisia's legal framework for voter registration and media and campaign finance regulation for the anticipated 2014 presidential and parliamentary elections. The Center encourages deputies to consider additional measures to improve the electoral framework, including steps to protect voting rights for military and security forces, candidacy rights, freedom of expression in the electoral period, and the rights of observers and party and candidate representatives.

In a statement released today, The Carter Center examines these and other issues through the perspective of international standards and obligations for democratic elections and identifies key issues that could be addressed during the process of amending the draft.

"The overall content of the draft electoral law, as well as the assembly's deliberative process, is very positive," said Dr. David Carroll, director of the Carter Center's Democracy Program. "The draft legislation and consultative approach serve as a good model for other transitional democracies in the region."

Originally formulated by civil society organizations, the draft text draws on the 2011 electoral law and lessons learned from the National Constituent Assembly elections, whose members have made strong efforts to address deficiencies in the previous legislation. The Center encourages deputies to continue these efforts and work to further align the draft legislation with Tunisia's international obligations for democratic elections. In the spirit of mutual cooperation, the Center offers the following recommendations for consideration:

  • Remove or narrow restrictions on voting rights, including for members of the military and security forces, so as to allow the broadest participation possible in the polls;
  • Consider measures to assist illiterate voters, including increased voter education and continued use of symbols on the ballot. While voter assistance is discouraged, if incorporated into the law, legislators should ensure steps to protect the secrecy of the ballot and electoral authorities should undertake civic education efforts to make illiterate voters aware of the guarantee of impartial assistance;
  • Refine requirements for gender parity among heads of lists, and allow but not require the use of supplementary candidate lists for legislative elections;
  • Ensure freedom of expression and communication by providing for media freedom in the pre-election period, and consider regulating political advertising rather than banning it;
  • Eliminate or refine the exclusion from candidacy rights of people who held positions in the former ruling party in order to ensure that only those who pose a clear danger to Tunisian democracy if elected are excluded. Establish a means of consideration of individual circumstances for potential candidates;
  • Consider regulations governing the publication or discussion of opinion polls during the electoral period rather than prohibiting those activities;
  • Grant the ISIE authority to define criteria for voter registration, including residency requirements;
  • Campaign finance regulations in Article 78 should refer to the electoral period rather than the electoral campaign, in order to ensure reporting of expenses incurred during the entire electoral period;
  • Increase the transparency of ballot counting procedures by establishing procedures to decide the validity of ballots and requiring polling staff to exhibit each ballot to observers and party or candidate representatives during the counting process;
  • Guarantee the provision of result protocols to observers at polling station and constituency levels, and establish a reasonable timeframe for the publication of preliminary results and result protocols or other measures to increase transparency of the tabulation process;
  • Grant the ISIE the authority to order partial or full recounts of polling station results;
  • Define the rights of observers and party or candidate representatives, granting explicit access to all aspects of the electoral process; and
  • Submit the draft electoral law to a provisional commission charged with considering the constitutionality of draft laws, as soon as such a commission is established, to ensure that the electoral legislation is fully in accordance with the constitution.

While mindful of the importance of the technical considerations, The Carter Center encourages the National Constituent Assembly to adopt the draft legislation in a timely manner so as to allow electoral preparations to proceed in earnest. The Center also urges Tunisian authorities to prioritize measures to provide the ISIE with adequate premises and material resources, so that the election commission may take immediate steps to organize the polls.

Following its observation of the October 2011 National Constituent Assembly elections, The Carter Center has monitored the constitution-making process and developments related to the establishment of institutional and legal frameworks for subsequent elections. The Center assesses these processes against Tunisia's national laws and international treaty obligations. Read the full statement (PDF) >

To follow the news and activities of the Tunisia Carter Center field office, like us on


"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in 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.


مركز كارتر يشيد المجلس الوطني التأسيسي من أجل إصلاح المنظومة الانتخابية

Le Centre Carter salue l'Asseemlée Nationale Constituante tunisienne pour ses réformes électorales

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