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Tunisian feminists warn of election regression that will leave parliament dominated by men

The only certainty in Tunisia, which goes to the polls this Saturday, is that the next chamber will have a minimal representation of women due to a new electoral law that rejects the principle of gender equality.

Of the more than 1,000 single-member candidates running, only 11% are women, with the revamped system further narrowing their options, for which Tunisian Feminist Dynamics – which brings together nine national organizations – expects a “male-dominated” parliament. and joined the boycott of these elections.

“The new electoral law will strengthen patriarchy, nepotism and tribalism,” Nabila Hamza, executive member of the Tunisian Democratic Women’s Association (ATFD), told EFE.

The singularity of this election hinders the candidacy and election of women who occupied a place in political life in the previous elections and reached 47% in the municipal councils after the 2018 municipal elections.

The principle of parity is undermined

Tunisian President Kais Said unilaterally amended the law last September to guarantee equal representation of men and women in Tunisia’s elected assemblies, “one of the major achievements of women’s rights since the 2011 revolution”.

In 2014, 68 women won seats in the People’s Representative Assembly (Parliament), “the highest representation of women in the Middle East and North Africa region,” according to Human Rights Watch, which warns of new “dangers.” Political exclusion of women in Tunisia.

In 2017, an amendment required political parties and coalitions to have parity in candidate lists, also for local elections, leading to 47% representation in municipal councils in the following year’s elections, including Hamza, today a councilor for the municipality of La Marsa.

Under the current reform, announced on September 15, the parity is lowered to 400 endorsements, which candidates must present to participate in the elections – in addition to 25% of the signatures of people under 35, but it disappears as a principle. elected bodies.

Networks that promote men

“The sponsorship mechanism, which involves a group of 400 supporters, causes technical confusion, especially for women in regions such as rural areas where political networks favor men,” says Hamza.

Feminist organizations also denounce the abolition of public funding, which the new law imposes, in favor of self-funding and private sources that support “power” candidates, financial or social networks that hinder the integration of women.

According to them, voting for single-mandate candidates instead of unified party lists does not provide a balanced representation of social groups in general, neither young people nor women.

Doubtful electoral system

The lack of debate and consensus on the new law, as happened during the July 25 referendum on the constitution, which was approved by more than 70% abstentions, has led to criticism from civil society and political parties that are distancing themselves. Election process.

Confusion reigns among the electorate, as they now have to vote for an MP in their constituency (each of the 161 parliamentary seats), between the number of candidates, which varies from constituency to constituency, as some have six candidates, while others have none. Applications are verified during the registration process.

The national organization Aswat Nissa (Women’s Voices) also called for a review of the law, considering that “there is no real democracy without the effective participation and empowerment of women in the electoral process.”

A “very serious” regression, “in a country that is trying to build democracy,” warns Hamza.

Source: El Diario





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