Tunisia will hold municipal elections on December 17, the country’s first since its 2011 revolution, the president of the electoral commission Chafik Sarsar announced on Monday.
The polls coincide symbolically with the 7th anniversary of the burning of a street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid, the starting point of the uprising against the dictatorship of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.
“These elections concern some 350 municipalities,” said Sarsar, noting that the announcement came after consultations with the government, political parties and civil society.
Last month, some activists called for the polls to be held on 26 November while others wanted them to be postponed to March 2018.
Some 130,000 voters will go to the polls early on December 10, Chafik Sarsar said while insisting on the need to hold the elections as soon as possible.
The polls will be the first municipal ones held since the fall of the Ben Ali regime in January 2011. Since then, Tunisian cities have been managed by “special delegations” in charge of current affairs.
The significant delay in the organization of the vote has contributed to the deterioration of the Tunisian’s living environment and which has led to inadequate infrastructure, problems of garbage collection, etc.
After the adoption of a constitution and the success of parliamentary and presidential elections in 2014, the municipal polls are seen as the best avenue to anchor the democratic process at the local level.
The blocking of the process was explained in particular by the negotiations in Parliament around the new electoral law, whose adoption did not take place until last January.
Mr Sarsar underlined that his body had nearly 5.4 million Tunisians registered compared to an electorate which is estimated at about eight million. Tunisia has about 11 million inhabitants.
In addition to updating the registers, awareness campaigns will be organized, Sarsar said while noting that registrations will begin in mid-June.
The participation rate, especially by the youth, will be seen as vital in a country plagued by high unemployment and misery, especially in its poor regions.