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Tunisia - Election - 2019

Parliamentary elections were expected on October 6 and a presidential vote on November 17. They would be the third set of polls in which Tunisians can vote freely following the 2011 revolution. The parliamentary race was expected to be fought closely by the Ennahda party, the secular Tahya Tounes party of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, the Nidaa Tounes party led by the president's son Hafedh Caid Essebsi, and the Courant Democrate party.

Tunisia delayed the first round of its presidential elections by one week to November 17, a spokesman for the elections commission said on 29 March 2019. The initial date had been set for 10 November 2019 but this conflicted with an Islamic holiday, when many Tunisians are travelling. The parliamentary race is expected to be fought closely by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, the more secular Tahya Tounes party of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, and the Nidaa Tounes party led by Hafedh Caid Essebsi, the presidents son. They rule the North African country together but their coalition has been hit by infighting that has hampered decision-making and slowed economic reforms demanded by foreign donors.

Political progress has not been matched by economic advances. Unemployment stands at about 15 percent, up from 12 percent in 2010, due to weak growth and low investment.

Tunisia is a constitutional republic with a multiparty, unicameral parliamentary system and a president with powers specified in the constitution. The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage. On February 2, parliament passed an electoral law that codified regulations regarding municipal and local elections, as well as granting members of the armed forces and security services the right to vote. Security forces had historically been denied suffrage on the grounds that the security forces must be completely impartial.

In 2014 the country held free and fair parliamentary elections that resulted in the Nida Tounes (Call of Tunisia) Party winning a plurality of the votes. President Beji Caid Essebsi came to office in 2014 after winning the first democratic presidential elections. Nida Tounes formed a coalition government with the Nahda Party and several smaller parties. On 11 September 2017, parliament approved Prime Minister Youssef Chaheds second government, composed of 28 ministers and 15 state secretaries.

Of the approximately 200 registered parties, 70 ran electoral lists in the 2014 parliamentary elections. Authorities rejected parties that did not receive accreditation due to incomplete applications or because their programs were inconsistent with laws prohibiting discrimination and parties based on religion.

Tunisians headed to the polls on 06 May 2018 to vote in the country's first free municipal elections since the removal of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his government in 2011. Having been postponed four times, the elections came as a relief to many Tunisians who, at times, had seen some of the most basic services disrupted as a result of the political uncertainty that followed the revolution. The country's municipalities have historically been overshadowed by the central authorities in Tunis, which left little to no room for deliberation and progress to take effect in the rest of the country, especially in the rural and less industrialised interior regions.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed had been undermined by his secular Nidaa Tounes party, which has tried to sack him. The co-ruling moderate Islamists of the Ennahda rejected that but didnt want him to run in the 2019 election.

The current situation in Tunisia must be resolved by political consensus or resignation because there is no good government for all time and place," Tunisian President Bji Kaid Sibsi said in an interview with three local television channels in Tunis on 16 July 2018. Al-Sibsi stressed that the current situation should not continue, adding: "We have reached the point where we must say that we are going from bad to worse and must stop this, and can not succeed any government to respond to the demands of the people if it has no political scope and achieve consensus and consensus Politically with all forces."

"If this does not work, then the prime minister should either resign from his post or go to the House of Representatives to regain confidence," al-Sibsi said. The Tunisian president said that the prime minister, Youssef, should attention to the current situation rather than thinking about running for the next presidential election, adding: "All eyes are heading towards 2019, but who governs now should not think of 2019 and should think In the success of the government, and who did not succeed in 2017 and 2018, will not come to power in 2019."

Several political parties opposed to Yusuf's government face charges of working to create a climate and factors that will help him run for elections scheduled for the end of next year 2019.

President Bji Kaid Sibsi called Essebsi to achieve a national consensus without exclusion of any party , including helping to overcome the political stage and the current economic and social in the country, said: "We have weakness in the rule of law and the political situation is fragile in Tunisia and we are moving in a young democracy experience, and this makes it imperative for all parties to work together to alleviate Of the political tension between the various parties. "

He criticized the attempt of some progressive forces in Tunisia to exclude the Renaissance movement from participating in dialogue and government, saying: "Renaissance is a strong party and I defended the Renaissance, and we do not want to reduce the Renaissance and no party." Al-Sibsi referred to the National Salvation Bloc, which includes the parties of the Tunis project, Afaq and Al-Masar, which demands that the renaissance be excluded from the government before participating in it.

Dr. Laila Hammami is considered the first woman to run for the 2019 presidential race. She believes that the status of women has exceeded the level of legislative and political status, and that it is time to turn that status to the actual potential that will be reflected by the rise of women to the platform of governance in the first democratic Arab country, which is available in Tunisia.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on 25 September 2018 blamed Prime Minister Youssef Chahed for the political crisis in the country, calling on him to either resign or initiate a vote of confidence in the countrys parliament. Essebsi pointed out that the law did not provide him with powers to oust the countrys prime minister. The political crisis in Tunisia erupted after Chaheds decision to oust Energy Minister Khaled Kaddour, as well as four other high-level officials in the energy sector. According to local media reports, the prime ministers actions were linked to the governments fight against corruption.

Rached Ghannouchi, the influential leader of Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda party, will stand in the next parliamentary elections in October, a move widely seen as an attempt to seek a leadership position in the country, possibly as prime minister or speaker of parliament,. Exiled in London for about two decades during the time of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Ghannouchi has been a major force since Tunisia's 2011 revolution, but he has never run for an official position. The 78-year-old remains a dominant figure who critics say effectively controlled the country in tandem with the secular-minded President Beji Caid Essebsi, 92, often dubbed the "two sheikhs" in reference to their age.

President - Round 1 - 15 September 2019

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi died on 25 July 2019 at the age of 92 at the military hospital in the capital Tunis, a presidency statement said. His death coincided with the 62nd anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of Tunisia. Essebsi was born in November 1926 and took over the Tunisian presidency after winning the 2014 elections. As prime minister, he helped draft a new democratic constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, and preparing Tunisia for free elections. He also cobrokered an historic power-sharing deal between his Nidaa Tounes movement and Islamist party Ennahda that helped to steady the country, as other parts of the region such as Syria, Yemen or Libya struggled with upheaval and violence. Critics accused Essebsi of attempting a dynastic handover to his son, rowing back on some post-revolution freedoms, and failing to support a truth commission seeking justice for the victims of authoritarian rule. Essebsi announced in June he would not run in an election scheduled for November, saying a younger person should lead the country.

Tunisians headed to the polls on September 15 to choose their new president in a hotly contested election. The election will go to a runoff vote if no candidate achieves an absolute majority. The second round is scheduled to take place in early November, after a parliamentary vote is held in October. Initially scheduled to take place in November, the vote was brought forward following the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi in late July. More than seven million people are eligible to vote, roughly two-and-a-half million more than last year's local polls.

Although candidates have presented a plethora of ideas to help reform the economy and crack down on rampant corruption, the head of the state's mandate is in theory limited to foreign policy, defence and national security. Under the terms of the 2014 constitution, the prime minister, who is nominated by parliament, is tasked with forming a government and running day-to-day affairs.

Tunisia's electoral commission confirmed the participation of 26 presidential candidates, including several political heavyweights. A number of prominent politicians will contest the presidential vote, including Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi and the Ennahdha party's vice president Abdelfattah Mourou. Other hopefuls include former prime ministers Mehdi Jomaa and Hamadi Jebali as well as Moncef Marzouki, the president during the 2011-14 transition period. There are also outsiders vying for the top position such as detained media mogul Nabil Karoui and Abir Moussi, one of two female candidates and a former deputy secretary-general in the party of deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Composing 60 percent of the overall population, young people account for a significant and diverse voter bloc, but recent trends suggest young people would be underrepresented at the ballot box. Fewer than 20 percent of people aged 18 - 35 voted in the 2014 parliamentary elections and in 2017, 69 percent of young people said that they did not trust political parties. With more than half the votes counted in their presidential election, Tunisians rejected established leaders in favor of a little-known law professor and a media mogul jailed on suspicion of tax evasion. Kais Saied and Nabil Karoui appeared certain to advance to a runoff vote next month as they lead the 24 other candidates, among them the prime minister, two former prime ministers, a former president and the defense minister. The preliminary result represented a sharp rebuke of elected governments that had struggled to improve living standards or to end graft, after Tunisias 2011 revolution introduced democracy and inspired the Arab Spring.

Parliament - 09 October 2019

The moderate Islamist Ennahda would be the largest party in Tunisia's new parliament elected 09 October 2019. But with only 52 of 217 seats, well short of the 109 needed to govern, it may struggle to build a governing coalition. Media mogul Nabil Karoui's Qalb Tounes (Heart of Tunisia) party came second, with 38 seats, while Tayyar took 22 seats and Karama 21 seats.

In the run-up to the parliamentary vote, Ennahda and Qalb Tounes had officially ruled out forming an alliance. And with a plethora of parties and movements, the stage looked set for long and complex negotiations. Four other parties took between four and 17 seats each. The social-democratic Attayar party of human rights activist Mohamed Abbou obtained 22 seats, while populist lawyer Seif Eddine Makhlouf's Karama party secured 21. Meanwhile, the Free Destourian Party of staunchly anti-Islamist Abir Mouss obtained 17 seats, with the female leader also elected Tunis MP.

The results appear to underscore dissatisfaction with the major parties. Though Ennahda came first, it had 17 fewer seats than it won in the last parliamentary election in 2014, when it came second to a secular coalition which had since fallen apart. Ennahda had been a member of several governing coalitions since Tunisia's 2011 revolution that have failed to improve living standards or public services in the young democracy. Any political deadlock resulting from the sharply fragmented parliament would complicate Tunisia's efforts to address chronic economic problems including a large public debt and unemployment of 15%.

President - Round 2 - 13 October 2019

The electoral commission announced that the two outsider candidates came out on top in the first round of voting, Saied with 18.40 percent of the vote and Karoui with 15.58 percent. Neither candidate has ever held political office. They beat out two former prime ministers and the candidate from moderate Islamist party Ennahdha, the biggest force in Tunisias parliament. Law professor Kais Saied had spent so little on his campaign that Tunisians joke that it had cost him no more than a coffee and packet of cigarettes.

Tunisias president has less direct control over policy than the prime minister and a separate legislative election created a deeply fractured parliament with no clear path to a new governing coalition. While they present themselves as anti-establishment figures, the two candidates present vastly different alternatives for president. Karoui has sought to win votes among Tunisia's poor, the business class and secular voters. Saied is popular among social conservatives while his no-frills campaign has appealed to young people.

Karoui had for years used his Nessma television station and the charity he founded after his son died to present himself as a champion of the poor, while his critics describe him as an ambitious, unscrupulous, populist. Karoui has used his popular television channel Nessma to launch high-profile charity campaigns, often appearing in designer suits as he criss-crossed the country to meet with some of its poorest residents before his incarceration. He denies all claims of wrongdoing against him, including old tax-evasion and money-laundering charges. Parliament passed a controversial law in June to prevent Karoui - which one polling agency put in the lead - from running for the presidency on account of his ownership of a television station that he allegedly used to promote his philanthropic work, giving him an advantage over other candidates. Essebsi, however, refused to ratify the law before he died. Karouis lawyers are seeking his release from jail before the run-off. Accused of tax evasion and money laundering, he said hes the victim of a smear campaign. Karouis arrest in the run-up to the election cemented his status as an outsider, despite being a longtime key supporter of president Beji Caid Essebsi, whose death on July 25 brought forward the polls.

Saied, a fiercely independent academic, advocates a radical decentralisation of power, with local democracy and the ability to remove elected officials from office during their mandates. He is seen as strongly conservative on social issues, and has defended the death penalty, criminalization of homosexuality and a sexual assault law that punishes unmarried couples who engage in public displays of affection.

Tunisias influential Islamist-inspired party Ennahdha said 20 September 2019 it will support law professor and political outsider Kais Saied in a presidential runoff against jailed media magnate Nabil Karoui. Saied finished ahead with 18.4 percent of the vote. Ennahdha, a key force in parliament, followed with 12.9 percent with its first-ever candidate for the presidency, Abdelfattah Mourou.

Unemployment plagues about 15 percent of the population, especially young graduates, while inflation eats away at already low incomes. Tunisian voters on preferred to venture into the unknown rather than extend a hand again to those who betrayed their hopes, Le Quotidien newspaper said.

In Tunisia's second free presidential poll since the 2011 Arab Spring, both finalists were political newbies: Nabil Karoui, a media tycoon recently freed from jail, and Kais Saied, an ex-law professor with blunt views. The vote is the third national election in five weeks, following the first round of the presidential vote in September and an inconclusive parliamentary election.

Karoui, heads the newly founded center-left Heart of Tunisia party. He continued to deny the allegations against him and says they are politically motivated. Karoui was released just days before the runoff vote. While in jail, he campaigned by proxy through his wife and party. Although now a free man, he is still under investigation for fraud and banned from traveling overseas. If elected, Karoui will receive immunity "and all the legal proceedings against him ... will be suspended until the end of his mandate," Salsabil Klibi, a constitutional law professor, told news agency AFP. Karoui, also a former Colgate-Palmolive executive, launched a media agency in 2002 alongside his brother. After the Arab Spring revolution, he turned his entertainment channel, Nessma TV, into a news program which then became one of the country's biggest private broadcasters.

Nicknamed "Robocop" for his austere mannerism, Saied is a social conservative famous for his bluntness and controversial views. With a stiff public manner and a highly formal speaking style, Saied has particularly won over young voters despite having spent virtually nothing on his campaign. Supporters see him as a humble man of unbending principle whose opposition to corruption and cronyism has won him the backing of leftists, while his social views have helped him to gain Islamist votes too.

The law professor has no political party but was backed by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda. He has called for the criminalization of homosexuality and a sexual assault law that reprimands unmarried couples who publicly display affection. He has also argued that capital punishment must be maintained and that men and women should not inherit equally. Saied was a constitutional law professor at the Tunis faculty of judicial and political sciences from 1999 to 2018. He launched an unorthodox election campaign during his retirement, shunning mass rallies and favoring a door-to-door campaign method.

Independent law professor Kais Saied looked set to win Tunisia's presidential runoff, as exit polls forecast an overwhelming victory against his rival. Polls carried in Tunisian mediay projected that Saied would win between 72 and 77 percent of the vote. His opponent Nabil Karoui who was in jail for most of the campaign was forecast to win between 23 and 27 percent. The publication of the exit polls triggered celebrations at Saied's election campaign offices in central Tunis, as fireworks were set off outside and supporters honked car horns. The turnout stood at 38.2 percent three hours before the voting ended, the electoral commission said at a news conference, adding that the participation was higher than that of last week's legislative elections.

President Saied had no natural allies in the chamber and there was little sign of possible alliances to form a new government coalition. Tunisias president tasked Habib Jemli on 15 November 2019 with forming a government after the Ennahdha party nominated the former secretary of state for the prime ministers job. An agricultural engineer by training, Jemli served as secretary of state at the agriculture ministry from 2011 to 2014 under Ennahdha prime ministers Hamadi Jebali and Ali Larayedh. Jemli now had up to two months to form a government that has the approval of a majority of deputies. If he failed, Saied can nominate another prime minister.

Tunisia's parliament 11 January 2020 rejected the government proposed by Prime Minister-designate Habib Jemli after months of negotiations between political parties to fill positions. Jemli, an independent, was nominated by the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party after it came out on top in legislative polls in October but failed to win enough seats to form a majority in the 217-seat chamber. Deputies voted 134 to 72 against Jemli's proposed government of independent figures due to "frictions" between the parties over political appointments. The vote was a big setback for Ennahdha, which had been directly or indirectly in power for a good part of the last nine years and it risks delaying reforms needed to revive the stuttering economy. Illustrating the difficulties for the divided political class to form a strong and consensual government, Ennahdha had admitted Thursday to having "reservations" over the team presented by its own candidate.

The inconclusive election in October led to a deeply fragmented parliament in which the largest party, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, won only a quarter of the seats. It took until February 2020, with several false starts, to form a government that could command a narrow majority in parliament. However, it was riven by deep ideological rifts, especially over the urgent problem of public finances and debt.

Tunisia's new government won a confidence vote in parliament on 27 February 2020, after more than four months of political wrangling since elections. Former finance minister Elyes Fakhfakh was named prime minister-designate by Tunisia's president Kais Saied at the end of January and tasked with forming a government within a month. A previous cabinet team put forward by him was rejected by the Islamist-inspired party Ennahdha, which won the most seats in October's legislative election but fell far short of a majority in the 217-seat assembly. But Fakhfakh's revised lineup won the vote 129 to 77 after a debate which lasted more than 14 hours. Ennahdha had given its support to the new cabinet after being handed six portfolios.

Elyes Fakhfakh's government collapsed 25 July 2020, less than five months after it was formed, plunging the North African democracy into a political crisis as it wrestles with economic troubles and social friction worsened by the global pandemic. Fakhfakh resigned over allegations of a conflict of interest. These came into the open when companies in which Fakhfakh held stock were reported to have benefited from state contracts. After Ennahda demanded his resignation, President Saied also asked him to step down. As an additional complication, parliament itself is in confusion with the speaker, Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi, facing his own confidence vote.

Tunisia's prime minister-designate on 25 August 2020 unveiled the country's second government in six months, which must now seek approval from lawmakers incensed by how the administration was formed. Hichem Mechichi had previously declared his intention to form a cabinet dominated by independent technocrats able to "present urgent solutions" for a country where a sluggish economy has been further battered by the coronavirus pandemic. The former interior minister's decision to bypass consultations with political factions had angered, among others, the powerful Islamist party Ennahdha, which has demanded a "political" government reflecting the balance of forces in parliament. But Ennahdha and other parties have also spoken of the need to approve the government to avoid dragging the already crisis-hit country into disruptive early elections.

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Page last modified: 26-07-2021 19:16:40 ZULU