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Tunisia - Election - 2014

Tunisia's presidential and parliamentary elections will go ahead later in 2014 despite delays in approving a new election law, authorities said March 26, 2014. No date had been set for the elections, the second ballot since the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and the first since the adoption of a new constitution.

On 25 June 2014 Tunisia's parliament agreed to hold parliamentary elections on 26 October and a presidential poll a month later. Lawmakers approved the first round of the presidential election to be held on 23 November and a second round at the end of December 2014.

Parliamentary elections held on 26 October 2014 saw Tunisia's main secular opposition party, Nidaa Tounes, emerge victorious, with initial results showing it winning approximately 80 seats, while the moderate islamist Ennahda party was seen as garnering about 60 seats. Turnout hovered around 60 percent.

Some 90 parties competed in the election. Around 60 percent of Tunisia's 5.2 million registered voters participated in the vote for the nation's first five-year parliament following a popular uprising that triggered the Arab Spring nearly four years ago.

Tunisians headed to the polls on 23 November 2014 to elect their next President. Following the success of last months parliamentary elections, this vote was closely watched and marks a crucial step in Tunisias democratic transition. Tunisians voted for their first directly elected president since the 2011 revolution.

The vote marked the long-awaited completion of a transition to democracy after Tunisians sparked protests across the region by overthrowing dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali three years earlier. Among the more than two dozen candidates, 87-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi, a political veteran from the Nidaa Tounes party, emerged as the front-runner, followed by current President Moncef Marzouki. Essebsigot 39.46 percent of the vote, ahead of Marzouki, who got 33.4 percent.

A runoff was held 21 December as no one secured an absolute majority. The campaign has been marked by negative campaigning. Marzouki has accused Essebsi of wanting the restore the old guard ousted in the revolution. For his part, Essebsi has described Marzouki as an "extremist" whose three-year tenure as president has been disastrous. Essebsi refused to hold a debate with Marzouki ahead of the runoff.

Tunisians cast their ballots in the second and final round of a landmark presidential vote that marked the culmination of a rocky transition to democracy. The vote was split in ideology - pro- versus anti-Islamists - and geographically. The northern, coastal areas tended to vote for Essebsi, while the south went for Marzouki.

Candidate Beji Caid Essebsi's anti-Islamist party quickly claimed victory over his rival, interim president Moncef Marzouki. Essebsi's campaign manager said initial indications showed a victory for the 88-year-old former minister. Marzouki's campaign manager dismissed the claims, saying the election was too close to call. Official results gave 88-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi nearly 56 percent of the vote in Sunday's runoff election - compared to 44 percent for incumbent interim President Moncef Marzouki.

As president, Essebsi is responsible for security, defense and foreign affairs. But his party will also command parliament, although it must first seek political alliances to do so.

Tunisia's prime minister-designate presented a new coalition government on 02 January 2015 to include more parties. Habib Essid included secularists, Islamists and smaller parties, after lawmakers rejected his first proposed cabinet days earlier as unrepresentative. Essid's coalition government was comprised of four groups, including Nidaa Tounes and the Ennahda party, the largest parliamentary force. Included among the new ministers are representatives of the powerful Islamist Ennahda party, the secularist Nidaa Tounes and a smaller party, Afek Tounes.

President Essebsi faced widespread criticism over what some see as his attempt at a hereditary transfer of power to his son Hafedh, the new leader of Nidaa Tounes (Call of Tunisia). That caused a split within the party between supporters of Hafedh Essebsi, and Mohsen Marzouk, a former leftist activist and the partys secretary-general. After a meeting 01 November 2015, the partys executive bureau accused the young Essebsi and some of the party leadership of inciting violence to take over the party and restructure it. Keeping together a political party with such a diverse membership base has not been easy, especially after the party joined a coalition with Ennahda in February 2015.

Public disillusionment over the lack of adequate job creation led to unrest and delayed the implementation of difficult measures that can cause short-term economic pain but are necessary to lower unemployment and raise living standards over the medium term. Further deterioration of the security situation arising from terrorism and spillovers from the crisis in Libya highlighted by the attack in the city of Ben Guerdane near Libya represented additional challenges. The split within the ruling Nidaa Tounes party and political campaigning ahead of municipal elections in March 2017 highlighted political risks in a situation where the implementation of policies continued to require strong parliamentary support.

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid was ousted 30 July 2016 after overwhelmingly losing a vote of confidence in parliament. In power for a year and a half, Essid failed to tackle the country's economic and security problems, his opponents said. A total of 118 members of parliament voted to unseat Essid; three voted for him to stay at the helm; and 27 abstained. The results were largely expected, with several ruling coalition party members declaring ahead of the session that they were not going to renew their confidence in the prime minister.

President Beji Caid Essebsi on 03 August 2016 named Youssef Chahed, the 40-year-old minister for local affairs with ties to the presidents family, as the countrys new prime minister, overriding charges of nepotism by critics. A junior minister in Essid's government, Chahed is an agricultural sciences specialist and academic who has taught in France and Tunisia. He is also part of the Nidaa Tounes secular party and has ties to Essebsi's family, which has led to some criticism from opposition leaders. Chahed is the nephew of Essebsi's son-in-law.

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Page last modified: 18-09-2018 18:34:54 ZULU