A New Electoral Code: Reviewing the Draft Law
After the signing of the new constitution and the creation of the Independent Higher Elections Council (ISIE) in January, the electoral code is the first law that the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) must solidify in order to proceed with the election process before the end of the year. The Jasmine Foundation provides a good overview of the election-planning process in its article on New Election Law Top Political and Media Agenda. The General Committee for the Election of the Assembly within the ANC is in charge of reviewing electoral code drafts that have been submitted by a number of non-governmental organizations including ATIDE, Chahed, Jeunesse Sans Frontieres Tunisie, and Foundation for the Future. The Rapporteur on the Electoral Law Hanène Sassi presented the «key aims and elements» of the draft law which maintains some of the components from the 2011 elections, including the closed-list proportional representation system with the Hare Quota with Largest Remainders system used to calculate the number of votes necessary to win one seat in each district. A number of new proposals on the table for review are:
- an exclusion threshold which requires electoral lists to receive 3% of votes in order to enter parliament
- financial reimbursements for campaign funding to candidates and electoral lists who receive at least 3% of votes
- a deposit of 10,000 dinars by presidential candidates who will be reimbursed if they receive 3% of votes
- youth representation on every electoral list of at least one candidate under the age of thirty out of the top three candidates
- the consolidation of the six voting districts (comprising Tunisian voters residing outside of the country) into one district
Following the Roadmap
Three primary objectives define the Roadmap that delineates the interim government’s post-revolution work through the 2014 elections: the ANC’s responsibilities which include completion of a new constitution, formation of the ISIE, and elaboration of the new electoral code; the formation of the new government; a national dialogue. While the ANC works to fulfill its duties in plenary sessions dedicated to electoral law, Prime Minister Mehdi Jomâa takes on nominations and keeping the National Dialogue current. Jomâa is pressed to adhere to the Roadmap’s requisites and to appease the coalition government; meanwhile there is push (in the media as well as the political arena) for Prime Minister to break with the Troika to ensure transparent nominations review.
In the Spirit of National Dialogue: Jomâa Meets with Twenty-Six Political Parties
In a meeting at Carthage on Saturday, Jomâa sat with representatives of the twenty-six political parties in what is projected to become a monthly discussion of national issues which will enable politicians to share their ideas and feedback. According to some who attended the meeting, Jomâa gave an economic update and security debriefing which highlighted issue of smuggling arms and weapons as well as the government’s commitment to dissolving the Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution (LPR), a necessary precursor to carrying through with the legislative and presidential elections. Each party representative at the meeting was given a diagnostic on current issues which are to be analyzed and discussed in preparation for review at the follow-up meeting.
Imed Dghij and the Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution
It appears that the strongest current of Saturday’s meeting at Carthage carried questions and concerns about the controversy provoked by last week’s conflicts in Le Kram neighborhood. «The question on everyone’s mind was less the economic crisis than the de facto dissolution of the Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution,» describes a Nawaat article on the topic. Amid public protests in the area, the head of an LPR based in Le Kram, Imed Dghij was arrested last Wednesday, February 26th. There is speculation that Dghij’s case has been manipulated by authorities as a display of progress on the country’s security front, and that the arrest of Dghij harkens back to the iron fist tactics of Ben Ali’s government.
Whoever the author may be, the order for his capture is, if not a political blunder, at least a challenge…Mehdi Jomâa should appear as the author of his own politics and not a performer of disguised, nostalgic politics. Otherwise his intervention might be the sign of a policy of confrontation and not of appeasement.Seif Soudani
The interim government has also commenced review of hundreds of administrative nominations. As of last Monday, the Prime Minister announced the selection of the nominees for three ministries: Abdallah Chrid as the head of the office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mohamed Ben Gharbia as the head of the Office of the Foreign Affaires, and Nabil Bezouich as the head of the Office of Tourism. The Minister of the Interior Lofti Ben Jeddou also announced that eighteen governors had been selected after Jomâa’s examination of one hundred-fifty resumes and that these selected individuals will in turn present lists of proposed delegates. The eighteen CV’s are accessible on the Tunisie Numerique website. Several candidates who had been offered governor positions purportedly refused to accept the job due to «the gravity of problems especially in the interior regions.»
With the electoral law on the table for discussion, the nomination of several ministry candidates, and the naming of eighteen governors, it is not surprising that election campaigns have rolled into action. Security remains a prominent issue in the National Dialogue and national media, and although the common concern is that insecurity is a block for the political process and efforts to precipitate democratic elections this year, the Dghij arrest and efforts to precipitate dissolution of the LPR are politicized issues that will most certainly assume a niche in the discourse of political parties as election campaigns unfold.