Tunisia Moves toward Cementing Legal Framework for Local Elections
On February 11, 2016 the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the Tunisian Administrative Tribunal, with support from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), co-organized a workshop on the draft amendments to the Tunisian electoral code. The seminar followed the February 10 hearing before the parliamentary commission responsible for the electoral legislation, during which IFES election dispute resolution and campaign finance experts offered recommendations for improvements to the draft amendments to the electoral code.
Ahead of the municipal and regional elections, which are expected to take place in late 2016, the existing electoral code must be amended to add sections pertaining to the conduct of these specific elections. The draft amendments to the electoral code were prepared by the Tunisian government and submitted to the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP) for review and revision in January 2016. Following the completion of this review period, the draft amendments will be submitted to the plenary session of the ARP for adoption.
The seminar brought together 10 members of Parliament, including nine members of the parliamentary commission responsible for reviewing the draft amendments to the electoral code, and 28 senior judges from the Administrative Tribunal. Participants discussed the amendments’ provisions that pertain to the adjudication of electoral disputes during municipal and regional elections. The event provided an opportunity for members of Parliament and administrative judges – who were not involved in the initial drafting of the amendments – to engage in an in-depth discussion about the content of the draft amendments and formulate recommendations for improvement that can be shared during the parliamentary commission’s final review.
In the opening session, Mohamed Faouzi Ben Hammed, the First President of the Administrative Tribunal thanked IFES for its support, underlining that this workshop was the third the Administrative Tribunal had organized with IFES on this topic, highlighting the importance of electoral justice to the Administrative Tribunal. During her opening remarks Kalthoum Bedreddine, the President of the parliamentary commission responsible for the electoral legislation, noted that the seminar was very timely and useful as the ARP has begun to hold consultations on the draft code with national institutions, civil society organizations and international experts, including IFES. IFES Tunisia Country Director Nicolas Kaczorowski gave remarks that stressed the importance of an impartial and efficient electoral justice process as a prerequisite for ensuring that electoral conflicts are solved in the courts and not in the streets. He also thanked the Swiss government for its support in organizing this event on a key aspect of the electoral process that, if managed well, can prevent conflicts.
During the workshop, senior judges and members of Parliament examined the content of the draft amendments, identified their strengths and weaknesses, and discussed electoral disputes pertaining to candidate nominations, control of foreign funding in campaigns, and election results. In lively exchanges, participants shared their analysis and proposals for improvements that will ensure the text is coherent, clear and comprehensive when it is submitted to the plenary session of the ARP for adoption. IFES will continue to work with various stakeholders to strengthen the adjudication of complaints for the upcoming municipal and regional elections.