2022 Tunisian constitutional referendum

Article

August 15, 2022

The Tunisian constitutional referendum of 2022 takes place on July 25, 2022 in order to allow the population to decide on a new Constitution. The project is supported by President Kaïs Saïed, the referendum being also organized one year to the day after the dismissal by Saïed of the government of Hichem Mechichi, a decision which triggers a political crisis in the country. The ballot is preceded by an electronic consultation relating in particular to the nature of the political regime and the method of voting in the legislative elections. The new Constitution, which notably establishes a presidential system, was approved by a large majority of nearly 95% of the votes cast, for a participation rate of just over 30% of registered voters.

Context

Drafting of the 2014 Constitution

The Constituent Assembly must adopt a new Constitution within one year of its election. A preliminary draft was published in early 2013. However, the articles of the Constitution were only debated one by one in plenary session in December 2013 and January 2014, in the context of heated debates which delayed their examination. The final text was adopted on January 26, 2014 by the Constituent Assembly with 200 votes for, twelve against and four abstentions. The following day, the text was signed by the President of the Republic, Moncef Marzouki, the President of the Constituent Assembly, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, and the Head of Government, Ali Larayedh, during a ceremony at the Assembly's headquarters. . This Constitution is the result of a compromise between the Islamist party Ennahdha (at the head of the government) and the opposition forces. Frightened by the military coup in Egypt that led to the fall of President Mohamed Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, and under pressure from the Tunisian League for Human Rights, the Bar Association and trade unions , Ennahdha agrees to engage in a real dialogue with the opposition forces from the end of September 2013. The result of a compromise between those who want a classic parliamentary regime and those who want a semi-presidential regime more favorable to the head of state, executive power is shared between the president of the republic and the head of government. The Constitution grants limited recognition to Islam. Moreover, for the first time in the legal history of the Arab world, a goal of gender parity in elected assemblies is enshrined in the fundamental law of the country.

Crisis of July 25, 2021

On July 25, 2021, Republic Day, after months of political crisis between the President of the Republic and Parliament, thousands of demonstrators demand the dissolution of the Assembly of People's Representatives and a change of regime. These gatherings come as the health crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic worsens. The same evening, invoking article 80 of the Constitution, Kaïs Saïed dismisses the Mechichi government with immediate effect, in particular Hichem Mechichi from his duties as head of government and acting interior minister, announces the suspension of assembly—from which he waives the immunity of members—the formation of a new government—which will be responsible to him—and his decision to govern by decree; he also indicates that he will preside over the prosecution. Ennahdha immediately denounced a "coup d'etat". This qualification of a coup d'etat is shared by political analysts and jurists. On September 22, he confirms by decree the extension of the decisions as well as the dissolution of the Provisional Body in charge of the control of the constitutionality of bills, and decides to suspend the salaries and benefits granted to the President of the Assembly of Representatives from