A unified vote by MPs in Tunisia has seen the election of an independent Electoral Commission president, ahead of this year's national elections.
The Tunisian Parliament witnessed a rarity last week as all political parties and blocs voted for the the new President of the Independent Electoral Commission, Nabil Baffoun, as well as a renewal for a third of the Commission.
The Electoral Commission announced last week that the parliamentary elections would be held in October and the presidential elections in November. This will be the third set of elections since the ousting of the former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 during the outset of the so-called “Arab Spring”.
“This will enable the transition of democracy in our country, which has been hampered by political, economic, and social crises”, noted Tariq el-Fatiti, a member of the Tunisian Parliament.
The unanimous vote will come to the relief of parliamentarians in Tunisia, especially since there have been a number of political disputes recently, especially concerning the vote on the members of the Constitutional Court, the establishment of which has been a primary aim since the revolution but is yet to be achieved. The lack of a Constitutional Court has led to disagreements, most notably President Beji Caid Essebsi rejected Prime Minister Youssef Chahed’s proposed cabinet reshuffle in 2018.
The Electoral Commission now has relatively little time to prepare for the rounds of elections that are expected to take place towards the end of this year. Nevertheless, this vote represents Tunisia’s will to develop its electoral politics.
However, the development of electoral politics is coming across a number of hurdles, some of the most prominent of which are economic. Strikes were held last month by public-sector workers. The UGTT trade union had called for the strikes following government plans to stagnate public-sector pay. Austerity measure have been implemented in Tunisia since the acceptance of an IMF loan back in 2016. Protests and strikes have been organised since then to demonstrate that the Tunisian politicians are failing to represent those who are suffering economically.
The electoral reforms will aim to bring stability to Tunisian politics, however the issue of representation is likely to persist.