There is a parity in male and female candidates for the municipal elections on May 6th in Tunisia. Additionally, one in ten candidates has a disability. The new electoral regulations on equality is hoped to distribute representation and opportunity fairly across the country.
On May 6th, the people of Tunisia will have the opportunity to vote in the first free municipal elections since the removal of former-President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and his government during Tunisian Revolution in 2011.
Although the elections had previously been postponed four times, they represent an important democratic expansion of politics on a local level.
An electoral law passed soon after the revolution enforces a parity between male and female candidates in all of the country’s future elections. In addition, one in ten candidates must have a disability, guaranteeing representation and opportunity for Tunisia’s disabled population. The electoral law requiring gender parity was one of the first achievements sought by the Tunisian population post-revolution.
Many Tunisians have expressed their desire to see more young men and women standing for election, stating that they have a greater understanding of the democratic reforms the country requires.
According to the Independent High Authority for Elections, 75% of all candidates are under the age of 45, and 50% are under the age of 35. Female candidates make up 47.46% of the total number of candidates. 51% of candidates are party-affiliated, with the secular Nidaa Tunis and Islamic-democratic Ennahda parties forming the two biggest parties. 41% of candidates are standing as independents and a further 8% are standing as coalitionists.
One of Tunisia’s young female candidates standing for Nidaa Tunis, Inas Busta, said that although she is young, like many of the municipal candidates, she does not see that improving the country is determined by any age.
“I felt that she understands the citizens and understands the situation and the conditions,” said one lady in response to Busta’s canvasing in her village. It is hoped that the large number of young candidates will be able to provide representation for Tunisia’s large youth cohort, many of whom had grown to distrust the existing political elite.