The birthplace of the Arab Spring is sometimes described as the only democratic nation in the Middle East and North Africa. In order to retain this distinction and uphold its new constitution, however, a legitimate voting process needs to be held this year, Christine Petré writes for Middle East Eye:
After a long debate between Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party over procedural issues (it is lobbying to hold legislative elections first), and the opposition’s preference (to hold the presidential vote first), the National Constituent Assembly has finally agreed: parliamentary elections will be held on October 26 this year, and the vote for a president on November 23, leaving time for a second round of voting, if need be, before the year ends.
So far, so good, but then began a hectic period for the country’s Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE) in its fight against the clock. In the period of the month leading up to 22 July, new voters needed to register to vote. In a push to increase the number of registrations the ISIE has now announced that a second registration period will be held from August 5 to August 26. People who voted in the last elections in 2011 did not need to re-register, except for those among them allowed to vote at the last minute, principally to help boost official figures of the final turnout.
”Since the ousting of Tunisia’s President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, this small Mediterranean country has driven a bumpy road towards democratic stability, facing a number of security threats from radical religious fractions,” Petré notes. ”How the country is able to handle its next elections could prove an important indicator of how democratic its future might be.” RTWT