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Carter Center Reports Calm, Orderly, and Transparent Process in Historic Tunisian Elections

Contact: In Atlanta, Soyia Ellison,
In Tunisia, Don Bisson +216 21 76 82 08 or

Read the full statement (PDF) >

Tunisia's historic legislative elections on Oct. 26 were carried out in a calm, orderly, and transparent manner throughout the country. In a preliminary statement released by The Carter Center today, election observers reported that many Tunisians waited patiently in long lines to exercise their right to vote in the first election carried out under the new Tunisian constitution adopted in January 2014. The legislative elections are an important step in the history of post-revolution Tunisia as it builds representative institutions following a dictatorial regime of many years.

Tunisia, which gave birth to the Arab Spring, remains a beacon of hope for democratic governance in a region where other countries undergoing political change continue to experience significant challenges. Although the transition period was longer than anticipated, the National Constituent Assembly succeeded in overcoming its challenges with a number of achievements, including the adoption of a new constitution with a large political consensus, the creation of an independent and permanent election commission charged with organizing the elections, and a legal framework.

Despite a relatively smooth and orderly implementation of the elections, minor irregularities were reported in a limited number of polling stations visited by Carter Center observers, including insufficient instructions to voters on how to vote, illegal campaigning outside polling stations, and inadequate numbers of polling staff. Tabulation of vote counts is ongoing, and preliminary results have not yet been released. The ISIE announced turnout in Tunisia as 61.9 percent.

Overall, the electoral authorities succeeded in organizing a successful election day and conducting an inclusive voter and candidate registration process within a tight time frame. Unfortunately, many difficulties experienced by the ISIE were similar in scope to those experienced in the 2011 NCA elections, including failure to communicate effectively with electoral stakeholders and lack of transparency.

Key conclusions of the Carter Center observation mission include:

  • Election administration: Even though the High Independent Authority for the Elections (ISIE) had a limited time frame in which to organize the elections and initially were overwhelmed by the scope of the work, it conducted the election successfully without major irregularities. The ISIE did, however, suffer from organizational and management issues, including lack of a clear communication strategy with electoral stakeholders, lack of transparency in its decision-making process, and insufficient staffing.
  • 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 desired to vote in the elections had an opportunity to register.
  • Voting process: Polling staff largely followed procedures, and voting was carried out in a calm and orderly atmosphere. Some voters were turned away either because they were at the wrong polling station or because they did not find themselves on the list. The majority of polling stations opened on time. Lines were long at opening and decreased in length as the day progressed.
  • Legal framework: Although Tunisia's electoral legal framework generally provides a solid basis for the conduct of elections in line with international and regional standards, certain areas could benefit from improvement, including too-restrictive campaign regulations and a campaign finance ceiling that is too low to allow for effective campaigning.
  • Participation of observers and candidate representatives: In a tribute to active participation in the political process, citizen observers and candidate representatives were present in all polling stations visited, contributing to the transparency of the process. They appeared well organized and knowledgeable of procedures.
  • Campaign environment: Although the ISIE reported several thousand violations, the overwhelming majority did not have a substantial impact on the campaign or the electoral process overall. Violations included posters being torn down or put in illegal places, the use of political publicity, and unauthorized public campaign events. Carter Center observers reported that the requirement to notify the IRIE two days prior to each event was not always respected by candidate lists, with some not even aware of this requirement. This resulted in many events being held without prior notification, some of which electoral authorities canceled.
  • Women participation: Although the law requires that all electoral lists alternate between female and male candidates, it does not mandate horizontal parity, or the appointment of female candidates to the head of the lists. As a result, few parties placed women at the head of their lists. Only 145 of 1,327 lists were headed by women, though 47 percent of the candidates were female.
  • Electoral dispute resolution: The Courts of First Instance and the Administrative Tribunal made commendable efforts to adjudicate all petitions in a timely manner in accordance with the expedited procedure foreseen in the law. A significant number of decisions of the Courts of First Instance, however, displayed an inconsistent approach to the interpretation of the electoral law. The Administrative Tribunal demonstrated a considerable degree of impartiality, issuing its rulings with a sound evidentiary and legal basis.

Background: The Carter Center was accredited by the ISIE to observe the elections and deployed 72 observers who visited 348 unique polling stations as well as the tabulation centers in all of the 27 constituencies in Tunisia. The mission was led by former Prime Minister of Yemen Abdulkarim al-Eryani. More than 25 different nationalities were represented on the observation mission.

The Center has had a presence in Tunisia since 2011 and observed both the 2011 National Constituent Assembly elections as well as the constitution-making process that culminated in the adoption of the constitution in January 2014. The electoral observation mission was launched in June 2014 with the deployment of 10 long-term observers across the country and a core team of technical experts based in Tunis. The Center will remain in Tunisia to observe the final tabulation process and resolution of electoral complaints. An observation mission also will be sent for the presidential election scheduled for Nov. 23 and the possible run-off on Dec. 28.

The objectives of the Center's observation mission 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 electoral process is assessed against the Tunisian legal framework, as well as Tunisia's international obligations for genuine democratic elections.

The Center's observation mission is conducted in accordance with the declaration of principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct that was adopted in the United Nations in 2005 and is currently endorsed by 49 organizations.

To follow the news and activities of the Carter Center's Tunisia 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 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.


مركز كارتر يعلن بأنّ العملية الانتخابية تميزت بالهدوء و النظام و الشفافية في انتخابات تاريخية لتونس

Le Centre Carter fait part d'un processus électoral calme, ordonné et transparent pendant des élections historiques en Tunisie

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