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NDI

The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

Tunisia

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قراءة في عربي

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.

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.

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Parliamentary Assistance

For the first time in Tunisia’s history, the parliament, the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP),holds a mandate to serve as a nexus for genuine policy debate, reform, and government oversight. While citizens and the international community alike have high hopes for parliament, many of its newly-elected members have little to no experience as legislators. Following the 2014 elections, NDI is supporting parliament in laying a foundation for efficient constituent-driven legislation and oversight. NDI works with MPs as they draft legislation  represent the interests of their constituents and parties and communicate with the public.

Since launching its assistance to parliament, NDI has helped parliamentary groups, the ARP speaker’s cabinet and the communications bureau formulate communications strategies. As parliament discusses reforms and crucial legislation intended to boost economic growth and investment, NDI is assisting parliamentary groups and women MPs in contributing to and analyzing financial legislation. NDI also regularly convenes a multi-partisan group of women MPs to coalesce on priority issues and strengthen their skills as legislators and representatives. NDI is also helping relevant parliamentary commissions and party groups study key issues of decentralization and municipal elections.

Strengthening Civil Society

Before January 2011, only a handful of Tunisian civil society organizations (CSOs) were active and independent. NDI supported the work of a small number of independent CSOs pursuing advocacy campaigns on issues related to women’s roles in Tunisian society. The Institute is now working with Tunisian CSOs to help them oversee the ongoing transition process and act as a counterweight to political parties and the government through observation of election and political processes.

NDI supported Tunisian observer groups to plan observation efforts and train observers for Tunisia’s post-revolution elections. With NDI support, partner organizations deployed 2,000 observers in 2011 and almost 10,000 in 2014. In 2014, NDI also supported one CSO, Mourakiboun, to conduct an advanced statistically-based observation, also known as a parallel-vote tabulation (PVT). Through analysis of the data, Mourakiboun was able to report voter turnout figures and national election results with a high degree of precision within hours of the closing of polls. Mourakiboun’s numbers confirmed the official results reported by the election commission, bolstering the confidence of political parties and the public in the election administration, process, and results.

In addition to supporting Tunisian observer groups, NDI deployed international observers to each of the elections to further promote their transparency and demonstrate the international community’s support for Tunisia’s transition. NDI also supported several Tunisian CSOs in organizing Get-Out-the-Vote (GOTV) efforts to encourage voter participation of women and youth in the elections.

NDI continues to support civil society organizations conducting parliamentary and political oversight and engaging in voter participation of forthcoming municipal elections.

Focus Group Research

To address the deficit of publicly available information on citizens’ views in Tunisia, NDI conducts qualitative public opinion studies and shares the findings with decision-makers, including political parties and parliamentary groups. Through these focus groups, NDI has found that citizens consistently rank the economy and security as top areas of concern. Focus group respondents express frustration with the slow pace of political progress and with their elected leaders, but remain committed to democracy.

Political Party Development

NDI assists political parties to build a democratic political system firmly anchored to principles of participation, inclusion and accountability. Under the tightly controlled political context of the Ben Ali regime, the activities of genuine opposition parties were severely restrained. During this period, NDI led targeted programs to strengthen parties as proponents of a more open political system.

Following the revolution, more than 160 political parties, benefiting from newfound freedoms, competed in 2011 to represent Tunisians in elected government. NDI supported political parties as they prepared to contest the NCA elections, and after the vote, NDI continued to help parties improve their internal structures and processes, effectively communicate with citizens, and constructively engage with other parties. As the 2014 elections approached, NDI assisted parties in designing campaign strategies, developing responsive platforms and training candidates, particularly women and youth. NDI is currently working with parties in the new parliament as they develop policies and draft legislation that respond to citizens’ concerns.

NDI puts particular emphasis on assisting Tunisian youth and women in achieving greater responsibility within their parties. NDI has assisted women from several parties in developing women’s wings, securing internal quotas for representation in party offices, enhancing their leadership skills, and forging cross-party ties. NDI also convenes young party activists to work together across party lines to advocate for greater attention to youth concerns, including more participation in the political process.

Contact Information

For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:

Washington, D.C.
Angela Short, senior program officer
[email protected]

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11/20/2015 Final Report on the 2014 Legislative and Presidential Elections in Tunisia
Report
National Democratic Institute
08/07/2015 "Make our Voices Heard": Citizens of Tunisia Express Their Views - May 2015 Focus Group Research
Focus Group Report
National Democratic Institute
07/14/2015 Les Campbell - House Foreign Affairs Testimony - Tunisia - 7/14/2015
Testimony
National Democratic Institute
12/22/2014 Preliminary Statement of the NDI Observer Delegation to Tunisia's 2014 Presidential Run-Off Election
Statement
National Democratic Institute
11/24/2014 Statement of the NDI Observer Delegation to Tunisia's 2014 First-Round Presidential Election
Statement
National Democratic Institute
10/27/2014 Statement of the NDI Observer Delegation to Tunisia's 2014 Legislative Elections
Statement
National Democratic Institute
09/15/2014 Joint Statement of the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute Pre-Election Delegation to Tunisia
Statement
National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute
04/17/2014 Public Opinion Research – Citizens of Tunisia Express Their Views
Public Opinion Survey
National Democratic Institute
03/21/2014 Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly Gender Assessment
Report
National Democratic Institute
03/06/2014 Equal Access: How to Include Persons with Disabilities in Elections and Political Processes
Manual|Handbook
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12/04/2013 Statement by Leslie Campbell Before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs: "Transition at a Crossroads: Tunisia Three Years After the Revolution"
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10/23/2013 Increasing Women’s Political Participation Through Effective Training Programs: A Guide to Best Practices and Lessons Learned
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06/24/2013 Prioritizing Patriotism: Tunisian Citizens Express Their Views
Focus Group Report
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05/08/2013 Campaign Skills Handbook - Middle East and North Africa Regional Campaign Schools
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12/12/2012 Confidence Gap: Citizen Priorities on the One-Year Anniversary of the National Constituent Assembly Elections (Tunisia)
Focus Group Report
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07/27/2012 Promises Vs. Performance: Tunisian Attitudes Toward Government and Elected Leadership
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05/01/2012 Women's Political Participation in Tunisia after the Revolution, Findings from Focus Groups in Tunisia
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04/03/2012 Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations and Code of Conduct for Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observers and Monitors
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02/17/2012 Final Report on the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly Election
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01/26/2012 Revolution to Reform: Citizen Expectations on the One-Year Anniversary of the Tunisian Uprising
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