In January 2011, a spontaneous citizen-led movement toppled the regime of authoritarian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, ushering in an unprecedented political transition. Tunisians subsequently voted on October 23, 2011 to elect a National Constituent Assembly (NCA) tasked with drafting the country’s new constitution. For the first time in Tunisia’s history, an independent election commission organized the poll and adopted measures to support citizen aspirations for free and fair elections. As they negotiated the constitution over the following three years, elected leaders repeatedly showed commitment to inclusion and compromise, despite several setbacks. Tunisia ratified a new constitution in January 2014, paving the way for the election of new leaders with a five-year mandate.
Elections in fall 2014—legislative elections on October 26, the first-round presidential election on November 23, and the presidential run-off on December 21—marked the culmination of the constitutional phase in Tunisia’s transition. The election commission ensured a smooth and well-organized process, election officials were highly competent and willing to incorporate lessons learned and voters demonstrated a strong familiarity with election day procedures. The progress achieved to date has been a model for other countries in the region. Nevertheless, Tunisia faces a wide array of challenges in assuring a steady, continuous democratic transition. In particular, newly-elected leaders must tackle the pressing challenges of unemployment, insecurity and disparities in regional development—the issues that drove Tunisians into the streets in 2011. Political parties, civil society and parliament play a vital role in influencing decision-making to respond to these priorities as the transition moves forward.
Final Report on the 2014 Legislative and Presidential Elections in Tunisia (Final Elections Report, November 2015)
Presidential run-off lays foundation for transition to representative governance in Tunisia (Presidential Run-Off Election Preliminary Statement, December 2014)
With a successful election process, opportunity for politicians to respond to citizens’ concerns in Tunisia (Presidential Election Preliminary Statement, November 2014)
A step forward, building a democratic foundation in Tunisia (Legislative Elections Preliminary Statement, October 2014)
NDI, IRI pre-election mission says Tunisia on democratic path but must keep partisanship out of election process (Pre-Election Assessment Mission Statement, September 2014)
The progress achieved to date has been a model for other countries in the region. At the 2015 Democracy Award Dinner, NDI honored activists from political parties, civil society, and the government—on behalf of all Tunisians—for their contributions to the transition. Nevertheless, Tunisia faces a wide array of challenges in assuring a steady, continuous democratic transition. In particular, newly-elected leaders must tackle the pressing challenges of unemployment, insecurity, and disparities in regional development—the issues that drove Tunisians into the streets in 2011. Political parties, civil society, and parliament have a vital role to play in influencing decision-making to respond to these priorities as the transition moves forward.
Since 2000, NDI has supported Tunisian democrats in their efforts to promote a more inclusive and participatory political environment. In the context of Tunisia’s ongoing political transition, NDI is leading programs to foster a more representative political environment where political parties compete effectively on behalf of citizens’ interests, parliament conducts responsive legislating and oversight, and civil society plays an active role in overseeing the political process.