Absent Efficiency and Calls for Amendment

The political crisis in Tunisia raised the issue of amending the electoral law again. The parliament organized a study day on “evaluating the legal system for elections last January,” during which the Speaker of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, Dan Oiknine, called for controlling what distorts the elections and affects their integrity and transparency. Will changing the election law guarantee a different scene to what Tunisia is going through today?

The Failure of the Proportional Representation System

The attorney specializing in public law, Professor Chokri Azouz, explained to “JDD” that there was an innocent idea behind the development of electoral laws all over the world as well as a reflection of the balance of power existing when it was enacted, and Tunisia did not deviate from this philosophy.

Dan Oiknine added that The Islamists, who had the majority, had concerns about the return of the old regime and lack of confidence in one-person rule, so they sought to strip the President of the Republic of his powers while ensuring their presence in the Parliament as much as possible in parallel with excluding the idea of an absolute majority so that they would not be held responsible for failure, which is normal and expected in the situations of democratic transition, at his discretion. He added that an electoral system was based on proportional representation, which is a traditional concept and a theoretical model for pedagogical purposes, which democratic countries had abandoned since the seventies because it legitimizes chaos, as he said.

Our interlocutor affirmed that this system did not succeed because it crashed into a political desert in which Tunisia was stuck, in 2011, in the absence of strong and structured parties and cadres after the dominance of one party.

He also indicated the lack of trust between the various parties that deepened the crisis of the political system, taking into consideration the lack of saturation with accepting the rules of the game, which resulted in a majority without a real majority and an obstructive minority that does not accept the results of voting booth. He pointed out, in addition, that the debate in the public sphere in Tunisia is not based on rationality, ideas, visions and programs, one that is still primitive as its foundations are ideological, and therefore it is useless and pointless.

The Need to Reform the Entire System

Lawyer Dan Oiknine affirms that it is not possible to talk about reforming the electoral system in isolation from reforming the rest of the laws concerned with it, namely the political parties law, which is still a decree to this day while it should be a basic law, in addition to amending the constitution, which he considered “an amateur constitution full of transitional mechanisms. It did not include the implementation mechanisms.”

He also called for a review of the Associations Law and the texts related to it, such as the Court of Accounts and the Law of Probing Opinions, drawing on European experiences to put an end to electoral crimes, away from discourses of condemnation.
Rabah Al-Khoraifi, a researcher in constitutional law and a member of the National Constituent Assembly, defended this suggestion, stressing the need to review all the overlapping laws related primarily to associations and companies for sounding opinions and audiovisual communication which is directly affected by the electoral process and its results because electoral practice is comprehensive and cannot be transparent except in a political climate subject to the rule of law only.

Public Integrity

On the other hand, Rabeh Al-Kharaifi considered in a statement to “JDD” that the problem lies in the conditions for candidacy, calling for tightening them because the conditions related to public integrity and integrity are absent in the current text.
He said that every person who is still subject to criminal prosecution should be deprived of running with the obligation to present the criminal record card known as card number 3.

In a related context, both Al-Kharaifi and Azouz believe that the electoral threshold is necessary on the basis of a clear majority that bears responsibility for finding political, economic and social solutions that enable to overcome the state of dispersion and ensure stability.
Al-Kharaifi stated that a threshold between 5 and 10 percent should be added so that the large and truly representative parties in the street can rise to power, indicating that it is unacceptable for a person to become an MP once he obtains only 200 votes, calling, as well, for thinking about how to vote on lists or on individuals.