The municipal elections in May were the first major step towards an ambitious decentralisation project in Tunisia. Yet although the administrative structure is continuing to evolve alongside a democratising system, the aim of improving the state-society relationship has been jeopardised by record-level abstentions.
Following a string of postponements since October 2016, municipal elections were eventually held in Tunisia in May this year. The newly elected local councils are replacing temporary bodies – established after President Ben Ali’s flight in early 2011 – in 350 municipalities, with more than 7,000 seats up for election. In addition to the provisions of the 2014 Constitution, the legal basis was provided by the Code des Collectivités Locales, eventually agreed upon in parliament a matter of days before the polling stations opened. This apparent dilly-dallying raises important issues: the reform schedule for revamping the state’s governing structures might be considered too ambitious and hence lacks the full support of the MPs. In addition, the sustained political crisis forestalls progress by impeding consensus, as witnessed around the question of allowing security personnel to vote. (…)
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