Lessons from Tunisia’s 2014 elections

While the 2014 Tunisian elections represented credible and competitive elections, they also revealed the need for electoral reforms to address weaknesses in the process and strengthen the legal framework. The main issues for improvement include the provisions on registration of candidates, campaign rules, out-of-country voting, election appeals to courts and provisions to deter vote buying. These were the conclusions of a conference by DRI and the Association for Research on Democratic Transition (ARTD) on 24 April 2015.

Panellists from relevant institutions – the Independent Superior Institutions for Elections (ISIE), Court of Auditors, and Administrative Tribunal – as well as from civil society organisations – Chahed, ATIDE, IWatch, Ofiya, Mourakiboun network – shared and discussed their experience. Professor Yadh BEN ACHOUR, President of the ARTD, presented the final report on lessons learned.

Scrutinizing the law in action, several reform needs became apparent. Concerning the electoral campaign, the following points call for improvement: the out-of-country vote, the submission of candidature and the sponsorship of candidates. Regarding opinion polls and automatic delivery of ballots, alternative solutions should be examined to better the current situation. Financial issues, such as the funding of electoral campaigns – by Tunisian and foreign donors – and the offence of buying votes, are the subject of serious concern that need to be addressed by both the legislator and all election stakeholders. Concerning remedies against electoral violations, access to the courts during electoral campaigns should be enhanced. Finally, the working conditions for polling staff should be improved-

Professor Yadh BEN ACHOUR concluded the conference with these words: “The importance of the 2014 elections manifests itself in the expression of the will of the People; the novelty we have experienced is the realisation of one of the objectives of the revolution: A state of checks and balances, where relationships are horizontal and not vertical in the sense of tutelage. We live now in a regime of contestation and competition and that is why the elections have succeeded.”

These events were organised in the framework of the project “Supporting CSOs and Political Actors in Elections and Institutional Reforms to Strengthen the Democratic Process in Tunisia” funded by the European Union.


Featured image: Ayya Chebbi/flickr

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