Tunisia flag Tunisia: Economic and Political Overview

The political framework of Tunisia

Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Kaïs Saïed (since 23 October 2019)
Prime Minister: Ahmed Hachani (since 1 August 2023)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: 2024
Assembly of the Representatives of the People: 2027
Current Political Context
Tunisia is characterised by a very unstable political context. In October 2019, Kais Saied won the presidential elections over Nabil Karoui and seized exceptional powers in the context of social unrest due to the worsening economic situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, Saied suspended the legislature and secured public backing in a July 25th 2022 referendum for a new constitution that weakens the parliament's powers in favour of the presidency. In fact, the new government does not need the approval of the parliament, and cannot be censored without a two-thirds majority of both parliament and a council of regional representatives, whose structure has yet to be defined.
One year after President Saied officially dissolved the Assembly, the new parliament convened for the first time in March 2023. This marked the first parliamentary session since the military sealed the previous assembly in 2021 and the elections held in December 2022 and January 2023. These elections saw significant boycotts, with only 11% of eligible voters participating. The session faced stringent limitations, permitting only journalists from the state broadcaster and the official state news agency to cover the events of the inaugural session.
Main Political Parties
There are many political parties in Tunisia. In 2022, President Saied issued a decree prohibiting the involvement of political parties in legislative elections. Despite remaining a presence in Tunisian political affairs, these parties have experienced a notable decline in influence.The two dominant parties are:
- Ennahda: moderate Islamist
- Nidaa Tounes: secular, modernist, concerned with security

Other noteworthy parties:
- Popular Front: leftist; formed by fusion between socialist, progressive, green, and Arab nationalist parties
- Afek Tounes: centre-right, secular, liberal
- Tahya Tounes: secular, liberal, bourguibis
- Machrouu Tounes: big tent secularist
Executive Power
The President of the Republic is the Head of State. The President is elected for five years by universal, free, direct and secret suffrage, and by an absolute majority of the votes cast. The President creates general policies regarding national security, international relations, and defence. He sees to the regular functioning of the constitutional public authorities and ensures the continuity of the State. The President is limited to a four-term mandate. The President nominates the Prime Minister, who is the Head of Government. The Prime Minister is normally selected from the members of the party or electoral coalition that obtained the highest number of seats in the parliamentary elections. The Prime Minister appoints the ministers and Secretaries of State; however, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence are designated with the accord of the President.
Following a 2022 constitutional referendum, the President has now more powers since he is in charge of appointing the prime minister and the government members, without the need to seek the approval of the parliament, and cannot be censored without a two-thirds majority of both parliament and a council of regional representatives. Furthermore, the president can dismiss the members of the government unilaterally.
Legislative Power
The people exercise legislative power through a representative assembly, the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, or by referendum. The Assembly is composed of 217 deputies elected by universal, free, direct and secret suffrage for a five-year term.
The new 2022 constitution created a second chamber of parliament called the Council of Regions and Districts. It consists of people elected by members of the regional and district councils instead of by universal suffrage (art. 81). Overall, the new constitution weakens the powers of the parliament, which can still draft and enact laws but can only pass a motion of no confidence in the government with a two-thirds majority.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
73/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
2/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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Latest Update: June 2024