Gridlock hamstrings Tunisian Constitutional Court

Parliamentary blocs in Tunisia face a deadline today to nominate candidates to the country’s Constitutional Court. Since its establishment in

tunisia

Photo: Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters

Parliamentary blocs in Tunisia face a deadline today to nominate candidates to the country’s Constitutional Court.

Since its establishment in 2014, Tunisia’s Constitutional Court has remained vacant. The president, the Assembly of Representatives, and the Supreme Judicial Council (an independent body overseeing the appointment of judges) must each nominate four candidates to fill the court’s 12 seats. After electing Rawda Al-Wersigni in 2018, the Assembly has failed to endorse candidates for the three remaining seats, demonstrating the hyper-partisanship of Tunisian politics.

A functioning court would protect rights granted by the constitution and thus represent a milestone for Tunisia’s fledgling democracy. Its absence precludes an avenue to challenge the constitutionality of repressive executive decrees. Despite the urgent need for the court, expect deadlock to continue as the legislature has failed to nominate candidates during times of relative stability. Since then, the 2019 elections—which elevated outsider Kais Saied to the presidency—ended a transactional power-sharing agreement between the moderate Islamist Ennahda party and members of the old regime, creating a fragmented political landscape. Heightened tensions between Islamist and secular movements make a resolution to the impasse unlikely for the foreseeable future.

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