Tunisia’s election


Tunisians voted today in elections for a constituent assembly. Turnout is reported to have been around 70%.

According to an election guide prepared by the Project on Middle East Democracy [PDF], the electoral system has the following key features:

An assembly of 217 seats

33 districts, 27 domestic and 6 for Tunisians abroad.

Maximum district magnitude of 10.

Closed lists.

Gender quota requiring every other candidate on a list to be a woman.

Simple quota and largest remainders allocation rule, with no legal threshold.

The six districts for overseas Tunisians will elect a combined 18 seats (magnitudes vary from 1 to 5).

These provisions would mean an average district magnitude of 7.8 7.4, not including the seats for overseas Tunisians.

The simple (Hare) quota with largest remainders tends to favor small parties (for a given magnitude), especially given the large number of parties running lists. Thus, despite a laudable gender-balance provision, many party-district contingents will be of just one (male) legislator–a good case of the inter-party dimension affecting the intra-party dimension.

To be clear, this not a “mixed proportional system” as one blog covering the election states. It is a pure list system, with all seats (again, leaving aside those for expatriates) being allocated via PR. ((Many–in fact, most–PR systems use multiple districts; very few allocate all seats in one nationwide district. I point this out because the cited blog appeared to be referring to the presence of districts when calling the system “mixed”. This is simply not correct terminology.))

The big question, of course, is how well the Islamist party, en-Nahda, will do.

I am not sure when we can expect results. Al Jazeera is running a live blog on the election.

Of course, around here we are delighted that this vote was made possible by the actions of a fruit vendor, even if we take no delight in self-immolation, per se.

7 thoughts on “Tunisia’s election

  1. only 6 percent of the more than a 1,000 lists are actually headed by women.

    Even with Tunisia’s progressive history… the parties are taking no chances in these elections in case women are not as electable as men.

    Most of the main parties have just two to four lists with women on the top out of the 33 electoral districts.

    Snippets from an article in The Washington Post.

    (Obviously, the reference to 33 districts includes those for Tunisians abroad. Those are all single-seat, as best I can tell.)


  2. I added some additional information on the districts for Tunisians abroad.

    These six districts have 18 seats, which is 8.3% of the entire assembly. Several countries have special districts for overseas citizens, but this is one of the higher percentages of such seats that I can recall.

    I also corrected the district magnitude for mainland seats, which actually averages about 7.4. If the overseas districts are included, it lowers the overall average magnitude to 6.6.


  3. In races for Governor or President, wouldn’t it be something if each party had to choose a male candidate, a female candidate and a mixed candidate?

    Imagine, with the Republican primary, right now it could be Romney, Bachmann and ?.


  4. At last check, Ennahda has 78 of 192 seats allocated (40.6%). CPR on 26 and Popular Petition on 25.

    The story behind the surprise third-place finish of Popular Petition is interesting. It’s actually a collection of local independents in each district–which suggests a very clever strategy for taking advantage of the features of SQLR that I referred to above.

    The one district where it won more seats than Ennahda (so far) is the district, Sidi Bouzid, where the leader of Popular Petition lives.

    “Looking for locals”!


  5. Well, perhaps a bit too clever: The electoral commission just invalidated six of their lists, the poll-topping Sidi Bouzid list among them. I presume it has to do with campaigning, financial or expenses violations.

    My source also is Tunisia-live, which now reported the following preliminary final seat totals: Ennahda 90, CPR 30, Ettakatol 21, Al Aridha Chaabia (Popular Petition) 19, PDP 17, others 40. These numbers will presumably be a bit in dispute then.


    • Final results show about a quarter of the elected members will be women. Over 85% of the women were elected by Ennahda. Very interesting!

      As for Popular Petition, the story I linked to mentioned that some of the lists were at risk of disqualification.


  6. Pingback: Tunisia Election Uses Proportional Representation, Draws 70% Voter Turnout « Ballot Access News

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