Women Political Representation in Tunisia An Unprecedented Backslide

Olfa Ben Fraj - Tunisia - 04/17/2023 03:06

The appointment of Najla Bouden as Tunisian prime minister coupled with a record of ten women to the 24-cabinet member appeared at first glance as an advancement in the promotion of women’s political representation. Yet the following successive decisions of President Kais Saied leading to the replacement of the Tunisian hybrid parliamentary system with a system that grant him extensive powers deeply question his overall political orientations with major concerns when it comes to upholding democratic principles. 

As regards women political representation, president Saied has sent mixed signals. In a rather unprecedent shift, the new electoral law introduced by Kais Saied in September 15, 2022 eliminates the principle of gender parity in elected assemblies. Additionally, under the new electoral law, potential candidates need to gather 400 signatures of registered voters from their constituency to run for office. Besides, candidates cannot finance their campaigns via public funding and must rely instead on their own means. Those new requirements are expected to create further burden for women who are less likely to have the same local networks for both the signature and access to financial resources. While it is too early to evaluate the impacts of the new electoral law on women political representation in Tunisia, a major decline in female candidates for the last December election was already noticed with only 215 Women in over 1430 candidates running for seats.

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