Election fever has gripped Tunisia well ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled for fall 2019. The elections will be the second since the adoption of Tunisia’s new constitution in 2014, with its goal to pave the way for democratic elections. The Ennahdha movement and the People’s Movement (Echaab) are both presenting a candidate for the presidential elections. Ettakatol (Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties) announced not to field a candidate, but it will participate in putting forward a candidate of one of the Social Democratic parties.
Road to elections
In January 2014 Tunisia’s National Assembly approved the proposed new constitution as an important step to establish a democratic civil nation, three years after former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted during the Tunisian Revolution. The protesters of the Revolution rallied against corruption, poverty and political repression. However, the upcoming elections are surrounded by similar discontent about economic misery, as a result of Tunisia’s transition from a controlled economy to a transitional one. Corruption has since multiplied and investors have fled the country. The authorities will start major campaigns in March to motivate the youth to vote, in order to raise the overall voter turnout and to avoid boycotts.
As for the parties Ettakatol, The People’s Movement and the Ennahdha movement significant changes in appointing candidates are visible for the upcoming elections.
Ettakatol National Council President Elyes Fakhfakh announced that his party, unlike the last elections, will not appoint a candidate for the presidential elections, seeking to present one candidate of “the social-democratic family”. During the last presidential election in 2014, Ettakatol put forward then President of the Constituent Assembly Mustapha Ben Jaafar. Considering the parliamentary elections, Fakhfakh stated that his party is currently in consultation with Al Joumhouri (Republican Party), Beni Watani and Echaab. He mentioned that the party’s lists will participate in a third of the constituencies. Fakhfakh is urging Tunisians, especially the younger people, to take part in the elections. According to him, the municipal elections in May 2018 were a debacle, with a vote percentage not higher than 30. He fears that this “disaffection” will continue in the next elections.
The People’s Movement will field a candidate in the presidential elections. As for the parliamentary elections, they said to be present in all constituencies with a partisan list. Its Secretary-General Zouheir Maghzaoui said he considers forming alliances with the Popular Front and the Democratic Current. This coalition needs to serve as an alternative to power, “facing the spiral of failure and decadence” that, according to him, currently is taking over the country. He is asking for a “favourable climate” in means of a democratic process and is encouraging all citizens to go vote.
The Democratic Current party also announced to participate in both elections, fielding Mohamed Abbou as presidential candidate. The party sees itself as a real alternative to the ruling “failed” coalition of Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes.
Ennahdha movement’s senior member Abdelkarim Harouni confirmed the participation in the presidential elections by presenting a candidate, contrasting with its neutral position in the 2014 elections. The aim of his party is to “support the stability of the government” as well as to “overcome economic and social challenges”. Harouni mentioned briefly that the option exists of cooperation with parties Nidaa Tounes and new party Tahya Tounes.
Expected is that the parliamentary elections will take place in October and the presidential elections in December. The President will be elected by majority, using a two-round system. A second round will be held between the top two candidates only if none of them receives more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round. The President will be elected for a five year term and can serve no longer than two terms. Hope exists for a higher voter turnout, as for the May 2018 municipal polls only 33,7 per cent of the registered voters casted their ballot.