Tunisia on the Eve of presidential and Parliamentary Elections: Organising a Pro-Forma Democracy

Tunisia’s presidential elections scheduled to take place on October 25 will be held in the shadow of five defining characteristics:

There will be a landslide victory for the ruling party candidate who has been enjoying the full support of the state’s apparatus for well over a year, whether through the giant posters strategically placed in streets and over public buildings, or through the state-owned media;

The “Constitutional Democratic Rally”, President Ben Ali’s party, will win 75% of the Chamber of Deputies’ seats (259 seats), with 25% (53 seats) going to minority parties; the Progressive Democratic Party, described by observers as the main opposition party, will remain outside parliament;

The Islamist Movement will remain outside the parliamentary and presidential race, mainly due to its failure to put its house in order following the dismantlement of its organisational structure in the early 1990s, and to the fact that most of its leaders are in exile and those that remain in the country are under strict administrative and security supervision;

An increasing number of citizens will stay away from the elections due to their lack of confidence in both the integrity of the process and its outcome; in previous elections the voting rate hovered around 20%, although official numbers put that average at around 80%;

The battle between the ruling authorities and the opposition regarding the presence of foreign election observers will continue unabated.

The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.