Tunisians will go to the polls on Sunday December 24, 2023 to elect their local representatives.

In these elections, the first of their kind in Tunisia's history, voters will be called upon to elect the members of 279 local councils, with one local council for each delegation.

The 2023 local elections will be held in 2,155 constituencies representing the 2085 basic administrative units, also known as sectors or imadas.

The total number of candidates in the running is 7,205, including 1,028 in the category of people with disabilities. Voters will therefore head to the polls to decide between 6,177 candidates.

The Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE) will appoint by sortition a local representative for candidates with disabilities in each of the 279 local councils to be set up.

According to the ISIE's figures, candidacies covered all the constituencies of the national territory, the geographical and administrative delimitation which is the result of the project for the spatial division of imadas implemented by the ISIE in conjunction with the competent authorities, including the Interior Ministry and the National Centre for Cartography and Remote Sensing (CNCT).

Still according to the ISIE's figures, more than 90% of constituencies received more than two candidacies, which indicates that the second round of local elections will be held in 57% of constituencies, i.e. 1,148 constituencies.

The statistics revealed by the ISIE also show that 60.1% of candidates are in the 36-60 age bracket, and that 86.6% of candidates are men.

Uninominal voting system

The local election campaign ran from December 2 to 22. In order to present their electoral programmes as effectively as possible, the candidates for the 2023 local elections opted for door-to-door campaigning, preferring to establish direct contact with the residents of the imadas to which they belong.

This is a wise and relevant choice, dictated by an "atypical" and "particular" uninominal voting system in which the law of proximity plays a key role and the candidate's good reputation plays a pivotal role in his or her "attractiveness."

The candidate and the voter both belong to the same territorial sector, which helped ensure the smooth and normal conduct of the various aspects of the electoral campaign, far from any tensions or excesses.

The reports drawn up by the observers deployed by the ISIE in the various constituencies showed that the candidates in the race behaved quite responsibly.

No major incidents

The total number of offences recorded in each constituency was 2,500. All were limited in scope and had no impact on the electoral campaign.

When the polling stations close on December 24, all eyes will be on changes in voter turnout, one of the key issues in these elections.

The Tunisian electoral register counts 9 million 79 thousand and 271 voters who, not counting election candidates, have enjoyed exceptional deadlines to update their details.

At the end of this exceptional period, on December 8 at midnight, the Election Authority officially counted over 864,000 updating operations carried out by voters.

In the same connection, the ISIE reported that, up to December 8, more than 2,661,000 and 62 voters had checked their personal details on the electoral register (polling station, constituency).

Journalists and observers from civil society organisations will also be present on polling day.

Indeed, the number of accreditation applications received by the ISIE stands at 3,165, including 900 from journalists (58 of whom are foreign journalists) and 2,265 from observers (40 of whom are foreign observers), said ISIE President Farouk Bouasker.

According to the pre-established electoral calendar, the preliminary results of the first round of local elections will be announced no later than December 27.

The proclamation of the final results is scheduled for January 27, 2024, after the expiry of the deadline for challenges.

The December 2023 elections are merely a milestone in a long-term electoral process aimed at finalising the mapping of the new local governance model enshrined in the July 25, 2022 Constitution.

At the end of the ballot, 2,434 local representatives from the 279 delegations will, in turn, have to designate the future composition of the National Council of Regions and Districts, the second parliamentary chamber created as part of Tunisia's bicameral legislative system introduced by the July 25, 2022 Constitution.

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