Tunisia: Voters shun upcoming elections | Al Jazeera

Rania Jasmine has no plans to vote in Tunisia’s upcoming parliamentary and first-ever presidential elections. “I don’t want to vote because I don’t trust any political party,” the 24-year-old university student, studying English literature and linguistics, told Al Jazeera. While she voted for the moderate Islamist party Ennahda in the previous elections, she said she was disappointed by the party’s performance. “[Ennahda] really disappointed me before as they were not the ones who were actually running the country,” Jasmine said. “They were [too] afraid of the opposition. So I prefer not to regret my choice again like the first time I voted.” After Tunisians toppled the 23-year presidency of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the country held its first democratic elections in October 2011 to form the Constituent Assembly, a temporary government put in place to run the country until this year’s elections.

Editorials: Contrary to Popular Belief, Libya Still Needs Elections | Foreign Policy

This past Wednesday, Libyans went to the polls to choose the members of a new parliament that is supposed to preside over the rest of the country’s transitional phase amid widening political chaos and deteriorating security. Some 45 percent of the 1.5 million eligible voters registered to vote. That’s a significant drop from the 2.8 million who registered to vote for the General National Congress (GNC) elections in 2012. The drop in turnout offers additional evidence, if anyone needed it, that Libyans are deeply frustrated with the democratic process in their country. It’s easy to understand why many might feel that there’s little point to voting: past elections haven’t brought relief from Libya’s festering problems. Indeed, there’s a case to be made that holding elections in a country already beset with widespread violence and deepening polarization can make things worse. In this view, the election results are almost certain to be ignored by parties who didn’t do well at the ballot box and by those who prefer to see an authoritarian regime.

Tunisia: Electoral body selected | Magharebia

Members of Tunisia’s Independent High Electoral Commission (ISIE) took the oath of office on Wednesday January 15th. Preparations for the elections must be accelerated in order to avoid political and economic risks to the country, President Moncef Marzouki said at the swearing-in ceremony. The nine ISIE members were elected by the National Constituent Assembly on January 8th. The officials are tasked with overseeing the upcoming presidential and legislative elections. Former Prime Minister Ali Larayedh linked his resignation to the election of the body. [AFP/Fethi Belaid] Tunisian Constituent Assembly Speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar casts his ballot as MPs vote for electoral commission members on January 8th. The commissioners were selected from hundreds of candidates amid political bickering that almost shook the process of democratic transition in Tunisia. Their ultimate selection was considered a step towards political detente, according to politicians.

Tunisia: Law professor named head of electoral commission | World Bulletin

A majority of Tunisian Constituent Assembly members on Thursday voted for a prominent law professor to become the head of the country’s High Electoral Commission. Law professor Mohamed Shafiq Sersar won 153 votes, out of a total of 203 votes in a heavily attended session. The assembly on Wednesday picked the nine members of the independent commission, while Sersar proved to be a unifying figure for everybody inside the representative body. The High Electoral Commission is due to start its mission by working on a series of technical issues before settling on the date of general elections.

Nepal: Maoist Popularity Wanes in Nepal Election | Wall Street Journal

Results for Nepal’s national elections show its Maoist party has plummeted in popularity, coming in a distant third and suggesting the former rebels’ influence has diminished in the South Asian nation. The centrist Nepali Congress, one of the country’s oldest political parties, won 2.4 million proportional votes, followed by the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), which won 2.2 million votes, the Election Commission said Thursday. The main Maoist party, Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), won 1.4 million votes. Exactly how the proportional vote, in which voters pick parties rather than candidates, will translate into seats in the new constituent assembly was expected to be announced by Sunday. Thursday’s count mirrored the results earlier this week of the direct voting, in which voters choose candidates rather than parties, announced earlier in the week. The candidates for the Maoist party—led by the revolutionary leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal —secured only 26 of the 240 seats.

Nepal: Vote Count Begins | Wall Street Journal

Officials began counting votes on Wednesday that were cast during election for a new constituent assembly to draw up a long-delayed constitution and pick a new Nepal government. Election Commission official Bir Bahadur Rai said the counting started in several districts and that boxes filled with ballot papers had reached counting centers in at least 20 districts. In the capital, Katmandu, election officials opened ballot boxes collected from all 10 constituencies at the International Convention Center and began counting the thousands of ballot papers. Mr. Rai said arrangements were being made to fly ballot boxes from some mountain areas by helicopter because snow had blocked roads. Nepal has 75 districts of which most of them are mountainous. More than 70% of the 12 million eligible voters cast their votes during Tuesday’s election in Nepal to choose the 601-member Constituent Assembly that would double as the parliament. First results are expected by late Wednesday and final results are going to take at least a week.

Nepal: Need for a turning point towards democratic transition | FIDH

Long-awaited Constituent Assembly (CA) elections will take place in Nepal on 19 November, more than a year after the dissolution of the previous one in May 2012. Given the great hope of the people of Nepal that the newly-elected assembly will succeed in drafting the country’s first constitution in the post-monarchical era, Nepalese authorities should ensure credible and violence-free elections. However, the nomination of candidates involved in serious human rights violations, and threats of boycott, may jeopardize the process. Several candidates, who are suspects in high-profile cases of murder, have been nominated despite repeated calls from national and international organizations and the Supreme Court of Nepal to put vetting measures in place. While the electoral campaign is being marked by a plethora of candidates – approximately 6,000 -, and political parties (122 [1] against 54 in the first CA elections in 2008), some parties, including fringe parties led by the UCPN (Maoist) splinter group, the CPN-Maoist, decided to boycott, and at some point threatened to disrupt the elections.

Voting Blogs: Democracy on ice: a post-mortem of the Icelandic constitution | openDemocracy

Iceland earned the respect of many observers of democracy around the world when, after the financial crash of 2008, its parliament decided to go back to basics and revise the country‘s constitution. A constitutional overhaul was long overdue. For nearly 70 years, Iceland’s political class had repeatedly promised and failed to revise the provisional constitution of 1944, which was drawn up in haste with minimal adjustment of the 1874 constitution as part of Iceland’s declaration of independence from Nazi-occupied Denmark. Clearly, the 1944 constitution had not prevented the executive overreach and cronyism that paved the way for the corrupt privatization of the Icelandic banks from 1998 to 2003 – and their subsequent crash a few years later. Faced by pots- and pans-banging crowds in Parliament Square in Reykjavík in late 2008 and early 2009, the politicians admitted failure, accepting the protesters’ demands for, among other things, a new constitution.

Editorials: The ‘politics of consensus’ in Nepal | openDemocracy

The phrase, ‘politics of consensus’ (PoC) may sound extremely positive. But it is rarely practiced in current competitive democratic systems throughout the world. In Nepal, it is regarded as a mantra relied upon to resolve the current political crisis. The ‘politics of consensus’ has therefore become both a panacea and a practise riven with contradictions, especially in those localities where consensus is undermined by one of the core values of democracy: ‘majority rule’. This is all the more problematic because of the constitutional vacuum, due to the dissolution of Constituent Assembly (CA) in June 2012, and subsequent problems in power sharing between the political parties. The idea of a PoC was initiated in 2006 in the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) between former rebel-Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M, hereafter Maoists)  – and the government of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA), to end a decade long civil war. The preamble of Nepal’s Interim Constitution 2007 clearly stated that PoC is one of the core values binding political parties to work together to reconstruct a new Nepal. This is an attempt to circumvent confrontation between parties when it came to re-building a new peaceful and prosperous Nepal, irrespective of divided political ideologies.

Nepal: Election Commission wants legal hurdles removed by next week to hold polls by mid-May | MyRepublica

At a time when the government has been reiterating that it will conduct fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) polls by mid-May, the Election Commission (EC) has made it clear that it would be unable to hold the polls if legal hurdles, among other concerns raised by the constitutional body, were not addressed by next week. At a meeting with top leaders of CPN-UML held at the EC office in the capital on Monday, Acting Chief Election Commissioner Dolakh Bahadur Gurung and Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav urged political parties to forge consensus on issues related to holding CA polls. “If you want to conduct CA polls by mid-May [as announced by the government], we urge you all to forge consensus at the earliest,” Yadav said at the meeting.

Nepal: Election commission rules out November polls | AFP

Nepal’s Election Commission said Monday it lacked a legal framework to hold elections promised for November — threatening a long delay that could push the country deeper into political turmoil. “In a situation of constitutional and legal ambiguity, it will be difficult for us to proceed,” commission spokesman Sharada Prasad Trital said in a statement. “Therefore, we have decided to inform the government that it is not possible to hold elections… on November 22,” Trital said.

Libya: It’s political party time in Libya: the key players | FRANCE 24

In a country that has not held an election for nearly half-a-century — not even the sort of sham polls that produce a 90-odd percent vote for the reigning autocrat — national election fever is running high in Libya. On July 7, Libyans will go to the polls in the country’s first free election since the rise and fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. The last elections in Libya were held in 1965. Gaddafi, who came to power in a 1969 coup and stayed put for 42 years, did not even bother with the niceties of conducting a rigged referendum. Libyans will vote to elect members to a 200-seat constituent assembly — or transitional parliament — that will write a new constitution and establish a political road map ahead of full-blown parliamentary elections scheduled for 2013.

Libya: Election Commission Offices in Eastern Libya Are Sacked | NYTimes.com

Hundreds of armed protesters on Sunday attacked the offices of Libya’s election commission in two cities, Benghazi and Tobruk, in anger over the way seats in next week’s planned election for a constituent assembly were distributed among the country’s regions. The protesters carried computers, ballot boxes and ballots out of the offices, and shattered and burned them in the streets outside, according to witnesses, news agencies and photographs that circulated on the Internet. Some of the attackers carried signs calling the leader of Libya’s interim government a “traitor” to the eastern region of the country, known as Cyrenaica, which the protesters said got too few seats in the assembly. Others demanded the writing of a constitution before elections.

Nepal: Elections called as constitution deadline passes | BBC

Nepal’s prime minister has called elections, after years of deadlock in which political parties have failed to agree a new constitution. Parliament has been extended four times since 2008 while a special assembly has struggled to reach consensus. When the latest deadline was missed, Baburam Bhattarai said there was “no alternative” but polls in six months. Political parties disagree on the issue of whether states in a new federal system should be along ethnic lines.

Libya: Violence puts poll timing at risk: analysts | Daily Times

Violence in Libya risks escalating and could even derail elections if the interim government fails to impose its authority by disarming militias and strengthening the judiciary, analysts say. In the southern desert cities of Sabha and Kufra, clashes pitting Arabs against non-Arab tribesmen have cost more than 250 lives since February, according to an AFP tally based on official estimates. Inter-communal fighting in Libya’s west last week left at least 20 people dead and hundreds wounded before the government secured a ceasefire with the help of the nascent army and revolutionary brigades. The unrest coupled with calls for autonomy in the east has raised concerns over the ruling National Transitional Council’s grip on power in the country where decades of dictatorship left an institutional void.

Kuwait: Veteran politician says negative phenomena impacted Kuwait election outcome | gulfnews

A veteran Kuwaiti politician has blamed the emergence of sectarianism as an important factor to be elected to parliament. “The emergence of chaos and of negative phenomena, including the sectarian dimension, has enabled people to reach the parliament,” Ahmad Al Khatib, the deputy chairman of the 1962 constituent assembly that drafted the constitution, said. “ The emergence of chaos and of negative phenomena, including the sectarian dimension, has enabled people to reach the parliament ”

Tunisia: Tunisian assembly adopts provisional constitution | Al Jazeera

Tunisia’s constituent assembly has adopted a provisional constitution that sets the stage for the country to name a new government, nearly two months after its first post-revolution election. The 217-member assembly, elected in November, individually approved each of the 26 clauses of the document to get state institutions back on the move.

The adopted document outlines the conditions and procedures to be followed by the country’s executive, legislature and judiciary until general elections are held, possibly in a year, and a final constitution is agreed.

The vote – 141 in favour, 37 against and 39 abstentions from a boycotting opposition – came after a tumultuous five-day debate that saw thousands of people demonstrating outside the assembly building, at times over what role Islam should play in the country’s new order.

Tunisia: Tunisia Moves to the Next Stage | Middle East Research and Information Project

Tunisia was the first Arab country to have a pro-democracy uprising in the winter of 2010-2011, and now it is the first to have held an election. Tunisians took to the polls on October 23 to choose a constituent assembly that will be tasked with drafting the country’s first democratic constitution and appointing a new transitional government. The elections were judged free and fair by a record number of domestic and foreign observers, testimony to the seriousness with which the interim government approached the poll. In the eyes of many observers, Tunisia is lighting the way forward where others – notably Egypt -are faltering.

In the days immediately after the January 14 departure of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia’s dictator of 23 years, the country’s future did not look so promising. Ben Ali’s former ministers attempted to provide continuity without popular legitimacy, the economy was a shambles, and protests and insecurity continued. It took three months for a government more representative of the revolution to be appointed, the former ruling party disbanded and the former regime elements sniping at passersby rounded up. The government, trade unions and major employers negotiated salary increases (generally of 10-15 percent), thus beginning to address the socio-economic grievances that were part of the uprising, notably in Tunisia’s poorer interior provinces, where mass protests against poverty and unemployment had taken place intermittently since at least 2008. With these tasks done, the path was cleared for the constituent assembly election, whose rules were hammered out between technocrats who had served under Ben Ali but were untainted by the worst of his abuses, and political forces that had to transform themselves quickly from underground and vanguard parties into mass-based organizations.

Tunisia: Tunisians Hold First Vote Since Revolution | NYTimes.com

Millions of Tunisians cast votes on Sunday for an assembly to draft a constitution and shape a new government, in a burst of pride and hope that after inspiring uprisings across the Arab world, their small country could now lead the way to democracy.

“Tunisians showed the world how to make a peaceful revolution without icons, without ideology, and now we are going to show the world how we can build a real democracy,” said Marcel Marzouki, founder of a liberal political party and a former dissident exile, as he waited for hours in a long line outside a polling place in the coastal town of Sousse. “This will have a real impact in places like Libya and Egypt and Syria, after the fall of its regime,” he added. “The whole Arab world is watching.”

In another first for the region, a moderate Islamic party, Ennahda, is expected to win at least a plurality of seats in the Tunisian assembly. The party’s leaders have vowed to create another kind of new model for the Arab world, one reconciling Islamic principles with Western-style democracy.

Tunisia: Tunisians prepare to head to the polls | AlArabiya

Campaigning closes in Tunisia Friday, two days before its first democratic elections, with a formerly banned Islamist party poised to dominate an assembly that will pave the way for a new government.

Nine months after the ouster of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a popular revolt that sparked region-wide pro-democracy uprisings, more than seven million potential voters will have a final chance to hear the main parties’ election promises at closing rallies planned countrywide. Campaigning closes at midnight.

On Sunday, three days after the Arab Spring claimed its latest victim with the killing of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, Tunisians will seek to turn the page on decades of post-colonial autocratic rule by electing 217 members of a constituent assembly from more than 10,000 candidates.

Tunisia: Constituent Assembly powers debated | Magharebia.com

Just weeks before Tunisians head to the polls in historic Constituent Assembly elections, politicians are debating what role the legislative body will play in the future of the country.

Parties, independents and intellectuals are divided into two groups. The first group supports a proposal to restrict the task of the Constituent Assembly to creating a new constitution through a referendum on the same day as the October 23rd poll. The other faction, meanwhile, has called for making the assembly a sovereign entity with full powers.

Mohsen Marzouk, Secretary-General of the Arab Organisation for Democracy who came up with the idea of referendum, believes that the role of the Constituent Assembly must be restricted to drafting the constitution, and that the government should proceed with its work until legislative and presidential elections are held within one year. Marzouk expressed fear that members of the Constituent Assembly might not agree on the formation of a new government.