Carter Center Calls for Improvements in Electoral Legislation, and for Municipal and Regional Elections


Contact: In Atlanta, Soyia Ellison,
In Tunis, Fida Nasrallah, +216 94 556 461, 

Read statement in English (PDF)

En français |  بالعربية

ATLANTA — The Carter Center urges the Assembly of the Representatives of the People to move quickly to adopt key amendments to the draft electoral law so that municipal and regional elections can be held as soon as possible.

In a statement released today, the Center recognized the efforts of Tunisian authorities to amend the electoral law to incorporate municipal and regional elections but noted a glaring lack of attention to the organization of regional elections. Local elections at the municipal level will help establish a critical link between citizens and their elected officials, whereas elections at the regional level will further encourage development and help meet citizens’ concerns in Tunisia.

Draft legislation to amend the 2014 electoral law now under consideration in the assembly will strengthen Tunisia’s electoral framework and create opportunities for traditionally marginalized populations — including women, youth, and disabled persons —  to participate as candidates in municipal and regional polls. The Center applauds these proposed reforms. In addition, the Center encourages the assembly to include reforms to address other key issues, including the enfranchisement of more than 100,000 citizens in the military and the internal security forces, as well as facilitating access to voters in hospitals and prisons. The electoral law also should ensure that electoral authorities are not empowered to overturn preliminary results prior to a court ruling by competent authorities.

Despite the prolonged period of legislative review, the draft electoral law introduces substantive improvements. The current draft strengthens the concept of gender parity, requiring political parties or coalitions running in municipal and regional elections to ensure both vertical parity of candidate lists (alternating male and female candidates) as well as horizontal parity (submitting an equal number of lists headed by women and men). In addition, the Center encourages the assembly to ensure that horizontal parity is respected at the regional rather than the national level and that the methods for sanctioning non-compliant lists are objective and do not further reduce the number of lists headed by women.

The Center also encourages the assembly to consider revising the definition of the “actual address” of the voter in order to facilitate greater inclusivity and reduce potential coercion. The definition in the current draft is likely to negatively affect the participation of many students and seasonal workers. It could also be manipulated by employers who could compel employees to register and vote in their place of work, possibly subjecting them to pressure to vote a certain way.

Finally, the Center encourages the assembly to adopt campaign-finance regulations that allow independent candidates and small political parties to conduct meaningful campaigns. These regulations should include effective mechanisms for the recovery of funds from recipients who do not garner the minimum threshold of electoral support.

The process of electoral reform in Tunisia has been frustratingly slow. There has been inadequate public consultation and a lengthy review process. Debates on key issues organized by the government did not involve a broad audience. In addition, there were considerable delays in reviewing the legislation. The government presented a draft text to the assembly on Jan. 11, 2016. The bill was examined in parliamentary commission for three months and finally advanced to the plenary on June 1. Plenary discussions on the draft law were suspended several times, reportedly over political disagreements on its content.

The legislative delays have forced repeated postponement of Tunisia’s municipal and regional polls. Two dates on which there was political consensus for holding elections (Oct. 30, 2016, and March 26, 2017), had to be discarded along with the electoral calendars and roadmaps that were developed by the Independent High Authority for Elections.

The assembly has an opportunity in the plenary session to reach consensus decisions and enact amendments to the draft electoral law that will open the door for critically important municipal and regional elections. Elected municipal and regional authorities could play a central role in hearing, understanding, and addressing citizens’ frustrations, which contributed to the 2011 revolution. The Center urges parliamentarians to adopt the electoral reform legislation and support the holding of municipal and regional elections at their earliest opportunity.  


Carter Center Statement on Tunisia’s Electoral Legislation and Municipal and Regional Elections (PDF)

Déclaration du Centre Carter concernant la législation électorale en Tunisie et les élections municipales et régionales

بيان مركز كارتر حول التشريع الانتخابي بتونس و الانتخابات البلدية والجهوية



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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.