Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Tunisian President wants MPs independent of political parties

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, September 20th 2022 à 10:00 | Read 1409 times

Kaïs Saïed will promulgate the decree fixing the voting system of the future legislative (photo: Tunisian Presidency)
Kaïs Saïed will promulgate the decree fixing the voting system of the future legislative (photo: Tunisian Presidency)
TUNISIA. Kaïs Saïed revealed, Thursday, September 15, 2022 at the Palace of Carthage, that the draft presidential decree on the organization of parliamentary elections on December 17, 2022 was ready. It has been submitted to the ISIE, the Independent High Authority for Elections. The President of the Tunisian Republic specifies that this text "carries convocation of the voters to this ballot on the scheduled date".

This call to the polls comes as a new constitution, replacing that of January 2014 enacted after the revolution, was approved by referendum on July 25, 2022 with 94.6% of votes for. Only 30.5% of Tunisians participated, however. The basic text came into force on August 16, 2022.

The Tunisian President said that the new decree "concerns the amendment of the organic law on elections and referendums in the part related to the election of members of the Assembly of People's Representatives. A new part related to the election of members of the National Council of Regions and Districts, will be added soon, as well as a text of law governing the relationship between the two chambers.

Creation of the National Council of Regions and Districts

Among the new features is the move to a bicameral parliament with the creation of the National Council of Regions and Districts (equivalent to the French Senate) which will be the counterpart of the Assembly of People's Representatives (ARP). Two thirds of the votes of the members of the two chambers of parliament combined will now be needed to pass a motion of no confidence in the government. The new constitution does not provide for the impeachment of the President of the Republic. The head of state will appoint ministers, starting with the first minister, without the need for a vote of confidence in parliament. He also has the right to dismiss their portfolios. This reinforces the presidentialization of the regime.

The ARP has not been in session since Kaïs Saïed decided to take full power on 25 July 2021. His first act was to freeze the activities of the ARP, to lift the parliamentary immunity of deputies and to dismiss the Prime Minister, Hichem Mechichi, who had been endorsed by the assembly less than a year earlier.

The new electoral law differs from the one adopted in 2014 providing for a list voting system with proportional representation. "The deputy of the Assembly of People's Representatives, in this way, does not derive its legitimacy from the will of his voters, but rather from the central committee of the party to which he belongs, while his legislative mandate has been granted by the voters and he is accountable to those who elected him (...) It is for this reason that the withdrawal of confidence in deputies under well-determined conditions, has been provided in the new Constitution, "says Kaïs Saïed.

On December 17, 2022, Tunisians will have to choose their future elected representatives individually and no longer vote for a list presented by a political party. "The uninominal voting system does not exclude anyone, as some people claim (...) It is in force in many countries, both in the United Kingdom and in France and in many other countries, "insists the Tunisian President. He said that "no one will be excluded as long as they meet the objective conditions provided by the electoral law.

Deputies elected by direct universal suffrage in two rounds

The new voting system will include two rounds (compared to one before) in 161 electoral districts (including 10 abroad). It will reduce the influence of political parties in parliament. Opposition parties are already calling for a boycott of all elections held under the new constitution's rules. "We are passing a new stage in Tunisian history, (and moving) towards the sovereignty of the people after the previous sham elections," commented Kaïs Saïed.

Any voter aged at least 23 years when submitting his or her candidacy and holding Tunisian nationality for at least 10 years (except for people convicted by the courts and certain professions such as the police and the military) will be able to run for one of the 217 seats to be filled in the ARP. Deputies will be elected by universal, free, direct and secret suffrage for a five-year term. All of them will have to submit one hundred recommendations.

The rules and date of the election of the members of the National Council of Regions and Districts will therefore be published later. The regional councils will conduct their elections (indirect suffrage). It is now clear that the two elections will not be held at the same time.

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