(Posters from 2011 Electoral Campaign in Tunisia. Image credit: Tunisia Live)
Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly passed an electoral law last Thursday night, preparing the country to plan elections for later this year.
Provisions regarding gender parity on electoral lists and the banning of former officials of the autocratic Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali government were the two remaining points of contention. While the parity rule was approved, the exclusion provision was rejected.
The exact date of elections and the order in which parliamentary and presidential polls will be held are still not known. The board of elections, created in January, will propose a schedule to be adopted by the NCA.
Article 23, passed by the assembly, requires parties to alternate male and female candidates on their lists of candidates for each district. A proposed rule, eventually rejected, would have required political parties to run women as the first name on at least one-third of the electoral lists they present in precincts.
Draft Article 167 was rejected, meaning there will be no legal exclusion of officials and leaders of Ben Ali’s party from running in legislative elections.
A number of assembly members did not vote on the final draft of the electoral law.
“There some deputies who wanted to postpone the vote on the whole law,” Ghada Louhichi of al-Bawsala, an NCA watchdog NGO, told Tunisia Live. “Some went out of the chamber as a sign of protest, while some were in the chamber but didn’t vote.”
She added that some members wanted to continue debating the gender parity and exclusion provisions.
The final tally was 132 votes in favor of the electoral law, 11 against, and nine abstentions. 65 members were missing from the vote.
Noomane Fehri of the Afeq Tounes party was one of the votes against.
Fehri told Tunisia Live he favored measures that would limit the number of parties participating in the next elections and stronger gender parity rules than were included in this law.
The electoral law will now go before a temporary commission established by the assembly to assess the constitutionality of new laws, Louhichi told Tunisia Live. Any articles deemed incompatible with the January 2014 constitution will be sent back to the NCA.
The order of presidential and parliamentary elections will be discussed in the national dialogue process by political and civil society leaders, according to Fehri.
(Article republished with permission from tunisia-live.net)