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Tunisia Holds Peaceful, Well-Organized Presidential Election, Further Consolidating Democratic Transition

Contacts: Soyia Ellison,
Don Bisson +216 21 76 82 08 or

Read the full statement (PDF) >

TUNIS - Tunisian citizens voted in a genuine and competitive election on Nov. 23, the country's first presidential elections under the new constitution. This presidential election further consolidates Tunisia's democratic transition following a long and sometimes contentious transition period. Tunisia remains unique in the Arab region for pursuing a political transition through democratic means following its 2011 revolution, and has now held two successful, well-organized elections in one month.

"I congratulate the Tunisian people for enthusiastically participating in this important step in their transition to democracy. They have renewed our faith that it is possible to shed a legacy of dictatorship and hold a vibrant democratic election when citizens and all political stakeholders work together," said Ambassador (Ret.) Mary Ann Peters, the CEO of The Carter Center.

In a preliminary statement released by The Carter Center today, election observers reported that although security concerns resulted in an increase in the presence of security forces around the country on election day, the election was held in a calm and peaceful atmosphere.

The voting and counting processes were assessed as overwhelmingly positive, with just a few minor technical irregularities noted by Carter Center observers, such as the failure to give adequate voter instructions and the non-completion of the opening minutes before the polls opened.

The tabulation process was neither uniformly nor transparently carried out at all tabulation centers, and in some, Carter Center teams were not able to meaningfully observe the process because the configuration of the centers separated the observers from the procedures. The Carter Center urges that ISIE take steps to ensure improved/meaningful access for future elections, including a run-off if necessary, so that observers are able to assess effectively these critical parts of the process.

Key conclusions of the Carter Center observation mission include:

  • Election administration: The High Independent Authority for the Elections (ISIE) should be commended for engaging in a lessons-learned exercise with relevant stakeholders following the legislative elections in order to correct deficiencies and address stakeholder concerns. Because of the short timeframe between the two elections, many of the procedural steps prescribed by the legal and regulatory framework were delayed, and some presidential candidates complained that the ISIE did not exercise its full authority to enforce campaign regulations or prevent violations.
  • Voter registration: Voter registration, conducted in advance of the legislative and presidential polls, offered interested citizens the opportunity to register to vote. Following the legislative elections, the ISIE opened a one-week window to allow registered voters who could not find their names on the voter lists during the legislative elections to be put on the list for the presidential election. Only those voters who had actively registered for the legislative elections were allowed to request that they be reinserted.
  • Legal framework: While the legal framework applicable to Tunisia's presidential elections is dispersed across several documents, it is generally in line with international standards for democratic elections. Certain aspects of the legislation, however, could benefit from further review, including those sections limiting the voting rights of military and security forces, as well as those of citizens in health care facilities, penitentiaries, or detention centers; the establishment of adequate timeframes for the different stages of the electoral process; and restrictions on campaigning and expenditure limits.
  • Participation of observers and candidate representatives: Tunisian civil society organizations and political parties took an active role in observing the electoral process and deployed more than 90,000 observers on election day. Some political parties complained that the ISIE was late in supplying accreditations for out-of-country candidate representatives, making it difficult to deploy them in a timely manner. Candidate representatives were present in 94 percent of the polling stations observed, and citizen observers in 64 percent.
  • Candidate registration process: Overall, the registration process was inclusive and allowed for the registration of a diverse pool of candidates. Twenty-seven candidates were confirmed by the ISIE. Forty-one applicants were rejected for failure to comply with the legal requirements for candidate registration.
  • Campaign environment: For the first time, the Tunisian electoral process offered citizens a genuine choice among a diverse group of candidates. Rights of free speech and assembly were respected throughout the campaign period. The results of the legislative elections impacted many candidates' campaign strategies, leading to the withdrawal of five candidates from the presidential race. Many candidates started to campaign in earnest only during the last 10 days of the official campaign period.
  • Voting education: The ISIE voter education program for the presidential contest was a continuation of the campaign for the legislative election. Unfortunately, the ISIE did not call upon the support of other stakeholders to conduct awareness-raising activities on a larger scale. This could have resulted in a more effective voter education campaign.
  • Women's participation: While only one female ran in a field of 27 presidential candidates, the polling stations observed by Carter Center representatives generally demonstrated an equitable gender balance among poll workers and voters, and women accounted for 56 percent of citizen observers. However, women served as polling center presidents in only one quarter of observed stations.
  • Resolution of electoral disputes: Despite the short time limits for complaints and appeals regarding presidential candidates' registration, the Administrative Tribunal was able to address electoral complaints in a timely manner. The tribunal demonstrated a consistent approach in its examination of facts and the interpretation of law and showed impartiality and respect for due process in its decisions.
  • Complaints and appeals: The electoral law provides effective mechanisms for appellants to seek redress. In contravention of international standards, however, the law does not allow voters to file complaints about potential malpractices or irregularities at the polling station or to challenge the election results in the courts.
  • Security: The Tunisian Ministry of Interior had warned of the potential threat of terrorism intended to disrupt the presidential election. The polls were held without significant security incidents. The presence of security forces increased for the presidential election but was not reported as intimidating or disruptive to the voting process by Carter Center observers.

Background: The Carter Center was accredited by the ISIE to observe the elections and deployed 85 observers who visited 380 unique polling stations and all 27 tabulation centers in Tunisia. The mission was co-led by human rights defender and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Hina Jilani, human rights lawyer Ambassador Audrey Glover, and Mary Ann Peters. More than 28 different nationalities were represented on the delegation. The observation of the Tunisian presidential elections was the Carter Center's 99th international observation mission.

The Center has had a presence in Tunisia since 2011 and observed 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 a possible run-off in late December.

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.


La Tunisie organise une élection présidentielle paisible et bien gérée, et consolide davantage sa transition démocratique

تونس ت جري انتخابات رئاسية سلمية و منظ مة تعزي ا ز للانتقال الديمق ا رطي

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