Are 15 Presidential Candidates Too Many for #Elections? #Tunisie

Whether pitaconsumers think 15 presidential candidates for Tunisia’s 8 million eligible voters is too much or a good amount, we are happy to hear some discussion about Tunisia’s upcoming elections.    On October 26th, Tunisians will elect a new parliament.  Soon after, on November 23rd, Tunisians will hold round 1 of electing their first president since ousting the Zine El Abidine Ben Ali regime in 2010.  Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi served as Acting President.  Since then, Tunisia adopted a new constitution, saw the winning Ennahda Party step down, and witnessed two political assassinations.  If necessary, round 2 will occur on December 28th.  This week, Dr. Noureddine Jebnoun shares his political assessment for Tunisia’s parliamentary and presidential elections.  Dr. Jebnoun is a faculty member at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.

It’s refreshing to hear about political challenges in an election context.  To be honest, we are tired of hearing about ISIS — it’s like the national security community is hitting a midlife crISIS…or experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the Al Qaeda experience and the symptoms include outdated flashbacks.

Various efforts to increase voter registration, through SMS and “youth” campaigns, receive external support on the watch of the Independent High Authority for Elections.  The At the same time, we must agree with Dr. Jebnoun that not all is faring so well in Tunisia.  Since PITAPOLICY’s visit in June 2014, the domestic situation in Tunisia leaves a lot of room for Tunisian voters to hold their political parties accountable for –regardless of experience.  In Jebnoun’s article, he points out how tackling unemployment, cronyism, and corruption can be any party’s platform because no solutions have been posited as of late, “Political economy has never been a priority for the Islamist party and its secularist – leftist partners in power.”

Tunisia’s Presidential Bazaar

Source: Article first appeared on Middle East Insight: MEI Insight No. 115 27 August 2014

More than fifteen candidates have already announced their candidacy for the November 2014 presidential election. (Note 1)
However, the final list of potential pretenders to the Carthage presidential palace is still to come. (Note 2) Set within a deeply fragmented and polarized political arena, this election has come to be seen as a kind of horse race where the contenders have focused most of their time and energy on their right to be elected – denied under the fallen dictatorship – and their own image de marque with their peer rivals, rather than on offering realistic political agendas for the country and addressing its monumental socioeconomic challenges. The absence of such an agenda is of paramount significance in light of the lack of any serious debate on the key issues affecting Tunisians. Meanwhile, proxy-biased media outlets run talk shows where candidates and their supporters favor the populist approach of “going negative,” a modus operandi dedicated to personal attacks viciously framed in defamatory and denigrating narratives. (Note 3)
This disenchantment and resentment amongst a population originally yearning for freedom and democracy has been generated by more than three years of uncertainty marked by endless political negotiations, latent violence and poor economic performance. In fact, post-uprising macroeconomic indicators have become worse as economic dislocation has led to poor economic growth incapable of creating enough jobs. The rise in the fiscal deficit and the increase in the public debt have negatively impacted investment promotion and prevented the country’s economy from engendering sustainable growth. Rising unemployment among the youth has reached an all – time high of 40 percent and is even higher in the countryside. (Note 6) Corruption, cronyism and nepotism have marginalized large segments of Tunisian society, chiefly among the … [Click here to continue.]

Who Are These Candidates? Why so many and where did they come from?

Among  these candidates include the following from Note 1.
  • Emna Mansour,  President   of   Democratric   Movement   for   Reform   and  Construction;
  • Abderraouf Ayadi, Secretary  General   of  Wafa Movement;
  • Béji Caïd Essebsi,  President of  Nidaa Tunis;
  • Kalthoum Kannou,  judge and  former President of  the  Tunisian  Association of  Magistrates;
  • Ahmed Néjib Chebbi,   President  of   the   High   Political   Authority   of Al Joumhouri Party;
  • Abderrahim Zouari,   former   Secretary  General   of   the   dissolved -­‐ banned Ben   Ali’s   party the Democratic   Constitutional   Rally   and   candidate   of   the  Destourien  Movement.

Filing nominations for presidential elections started on September 8th, and will close on September 22nd.

Candidates for the 2014 presidential election not backed by at   least   10  members of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA)   must  get 10,000 signatures for  sponsorship by citizen – voters in at least ten electoral  constituencies… Already nearly 40 personalities have publicly announced their intention to run for the highest office, most of whom are independent personalities. However, it is difficult for them to secure an endorsement from10 members of NCA and the only other way open  to them is to seek the10,000 signatures required. ~Noureddine Jebnoun


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Filed under Analysis, PIDE (Policy, International Development & Economics), Politics

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