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The Carter Center Commends Tunisia's Successful Voter and Candidate Registration and Encourages Increased Communication

Contact: In Tunis, Don Bisson +216 21 768 208 or
In Atlanta, Deanna Congileo,

Read the full statement (PDF) >

TUNIS, Tunisia - The Carter Center commends the concerted efforts taken by electoral authorities, civil society organizations, and political parties to prepare for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. Although the Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE) experienced many challenges, it has conducted a comprehensive and inclusive voter and candidate registration process, ensuring that Tunisian citizens can participate in the upcoming elections.

"As the Tunisian authorities take the remaining steps necessary to conduct the polls, The Carter Center and I encourage them to increase the transparency of their work and expand public outreach efforts to help ensure their success," former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said.

Voter Registration
The ISIE, the Regional Authorities for Elections (IRIEs), the regional election administration, civil society organizations, and political parties worked effectively together to ensure that all Tunisian citizens who desire to vote in the upcoming legislative and presidential elections had an opportunity to register. Although the ISIE suffered at times from a lack of organization and faced logistical, operational, and technical obstacles, none of these problems were serious enough to impede the overall goal of registering as many Tunisian citizens as possible. The ISIE and the IRIEs listened to concerns raised by various stakeholders and remained flexible. Efforts to address most of these concerns led to an improved process and a higher number of registered voters.

The ISIE announced that during the two registration periods, 993,696 Tunisian citizens were added to the voter list, of which 50.5 percent are women. According to the ISIE, the total number of registered voters for the 2014 elections is 5,236,244. Over 300,000 are registered to vote abroad. In a positive sign of voter interest in the election, some 3.3 million registered voters also confirmed their data online.

Several stakeholders criticized the ISIE for organizing the voter registration during the month of Ramadan and during the summer, when most administration offices and businesses were open only half days. However, many factors not under the control of the ISIE determined the timing of voter registration and shortened the time the ISIE had to prepare for the elections - most importantly, the fact that the NCA did not set the election dates until June 25, 2014. Other factors included the late election of members to the ISIE[1], the late adoption of the election law, and the length of time it took for the NCA to adopt the constitution.

While the voter registration period reached a successful conclusion, the Center urges ISIE to expand efforts to address several issues of concern that arose during the voter registration process, and which could impact the conduct of the elections. In particular, the Center recommends steps to improve transparency in the work and decision-making processes of the ISIE Council by improving communication with the public, the IRIEs, and the media, and by ensuring that all necessary regulations are completed in a timely manner. In addition, the ISIE should ensure a clear distinction between the roles and tasks of the IRIEs and the regional election administration, as well as consistent understanding and application by the IRIEs of instructions and regulations issued by the ISIE, especially as they relate to voting, counting, and tabulation. Finally, it is important that the ISIE conducts a timely and thorough voter education campaign on the voting process.

Candidate Registration
The candidate registration process conducted from Aug. 22-29 was equally successful. The inclusive process resulted in 15,652 candidates on over 1,500 lists submitted to the 33 IRIEs by the deadline. This included 807 candidate lists from political parties, 134 lists from coalitions, and 441 lists of independents submitted in-country, and 83 candidate lists of political parties, 17 coalition lists, and 18 independent lists submitted abroad. The Carter Center commends the IRIEs for the impartial, professional, and fair manner in which they carried out the candidate registration process and the initial review of the candidate lists.

Although the process was inclusive, the objective of gender parity included in Article 24 of the election law, unfortunately, appears unlikely to be met. Although the law requires that all electoral lists must alternate female and male candidates, it does not mandate horizontal parity, meaning there is no requirement that a female candidate appear at the top of the lists. As in 2011, the lack of horizontal parity is likely to result in a smaller number of women being elected to the assembly, as many parties are likely to win only one seat in any given constituency.

The ISIE announced on Sept. 6 that 191 lists were rejected for various reasons.[2] A total of 132 complaints were filed with the Courts of First Instance; 41 appeals against these decisions had been filed with the Appellate Chambers of the Administrative Tribunal by Sept. 14. The ISIE will release the final lists after Sept. 22. The candidate registration period for the presidential elections opened Sept. 8, and a preliminary list will be published after Sept. 29.

Background: The Carter Center Tunisia office was accredited by the ISIE on June 28 to observe the 2014 legislative and presidential election. The Center's 10 long-term observers have been observing the electoral process in Tunisia's regions since July 7. The core team located in Tunis and the long-term observers represent 11 countries. Long-term observers will be reinforced by a larger delegation of short-term observers that will arrive on Oct. 20.

The Center thanks the Tunisian officials, political party members, civil society members, individuals, and representatives of the international community who have facilitated the Center's efforts to observe the legislative and presidential election process.

The Carter Center assesses Tunisia's electoral process against the Tunisian constitutional domestic electoral legal framework and also against Tunisian international obligations derived from international treaties and international election standards. The Center's observation mission is conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation. The Carter Center, as an independent observer organization, will immediately inform Tunisia's authorities and the Tunisian people of its findings through the release of a preliminary statement of findings and conclusions shortly after election day, followed by a final comprehensive report in the months following the polls. Read the full statement (PDF) >

View a full list of Tunisia election reports >

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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.

[1] The selection process took almost one year, during which the law establishing the ISIE was amended twice and the process challenged several times before the Administrative Court.

[2] These reasons include: 1. inclusion of candidates who had registered during the second phase of voter registration; 2. withdrawal of some candidates without replacing them; 3. failure to refund the second part of the public funding from 2011 elections by those parties and lists who did not receive three percent of the vote; and 4. inclusion of candidates who had not reached the minimum age of 23 at the time of submission of the lists.


Le Centre Carter salue le succès du processus d'inscription des électeurs et d'enregistrement des candidatures en Tunisie et invite à davantage de communication

مركز كارتر يشيد بنجاح عملية تسجيل الناخبين و المترشحين و يحث السلطات الانتخابية في تونس على المزيد من التواصل و الاتصال