President of Independent High Authority for Elections of Tunisia to Receive 2016 IFES Baxter Award

Chafik Sarsar Recognized for Improvements to Election Administration Practices
President of Independent High Authority for Elections of Tunisia to Receive 2016 IFES Baxter Award Featured Image
Publication Date: 
23 Sep 2016

News Type:

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is pleased to announce that Chafik Sarsar, president of Tunisia’s Independent High Authority for Elections, is the recipient of the 2016 Joe C. Baxter Award.

The annual Baxter Award recognizes the contributions of election professionals whose skills, dedication and sacrifices to the field of election administration epitomize the mission of IFES and embody the spirit of former IFES Senior Adviser for Election Administration Joe C. Baxter.

“President Sarsar’s leadership role, at the forefront of the democratic transition in Tunisia, has paved the way for the conduct of elections that resulted in a peaceful transition of power,” said IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney. “His commitment to the success of elections and to applying professional election administration practices were noted in the technical improvements that were realized between the legislative and presidential elections of 2014.”

Sarsar, a law professor, became a member of the Higher Authority for the Realization of the Objectives of the Revolution, Political Reform and Democratic Transition (also called the Ben Achour Commission) following the 2011 resignation of then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

He was elected president of the Independent High Authority for Elections, or Instance Supérieure Indépendante pour les Élections (ISIE), on January 9, 2014, and administered the conduct of three rounds of elections in the fall of 2014. Under Sarsar’s leadership, the ISIE implemented important measures to improve and professionalize election management practices in Tunisia, ensuring that any shortcomings were addressed in preparation for the legislative and presidential elections of 2014.

The Baxter Award is given in memory of the late Joe C. Baxter, a legendary figure in the field of international electoral assistance. Baxter began his work with IFES in 1994 as chief of party in Ghana, setting up mechanisms to register 9.2 million voters and train tens of thousands of election officials. In recognition of his efforts, he was named a chief by one of Ghana’s largest tribes. From 1997-2002, as a senior adviser to IFES, his professionalism, kindness and respect left lasting impacts on the people he worked with during IFES missions to Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

"I feel honored by this award, which is a recognition of all the efforts made by this young electoral commission – the High Independent Electoral Authority (ISIE) – and highlights the progress democracy has made in Tunisia,” said ISIE President Sarsar. “I wish to thank all those who supported my nomination. Long live democracy!"

Previous recipients of the Baxter Award include election management expert Michael Maley of Australia; former Chief Electoral Commissioner and Chairman of the National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone Dr. Christiana Thorpe; Professor of Political Science and Government at Aarhus University in Denmark Dr. Jørgen Elklit; former Chairman of the Philippine Commission on Elections Christian S. Monsod; campaign finance expert Delia Ferreira Rubio of Argentina; former Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana Kwadwo Afari-Gyan; and elections expert Rafael López-Pintor of Spain.


As the global leader in democracy promotion, IFES advances good governance and democratic rights by providing technical assistance to election officials; empowering the underrepresented to participate in the political process; and applying field-based research to improve the electoral cycle. Since 1987, IFES has worked in over 145 countries, from developing democracies, to mature democracies. For more information, visit


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