The plenary commenced Chapter Seven of the draft constitution on local government. The discussion centred around the important of decentralization in making citizens aware of their role in governance and in reducing the burdens on central government. All articles of this chapter were adopted in one day, many of them unanimously. Two other chapters were also discussed and voted on on the same day, on “amendments of the constitution” and “final provisions”. The two final articles of the constitution, dealing with “transitional provisions”, that is the transition from the current state of no constitution to bringing the constitution into effect, and the order in which articles of the constitution would come into effect after adoption. These articles were still contested by some deputies and Assembly blocs and were due to be reconsidered by the Consensus Committee to reach final agreement. Also, Articles 62, 64 and 73 which had failed to pass previously, were due to be reconsidered before a new vote.
Statistics of Day 16
- Number of Articles adopted: 17
- Number of Articles rejected: 0
- Number of Articles adopted unanimously: 7
- Average number of deputies voting “yes” per article: 168
- Average number of deputies voting “no” per article: 5
Article 130, which guarantees the representation of young people in elected councils of local authorities, was the subject of some discussion, with Noura Ben Hassen (CPR) suggesting that the provision be strengthened to introduce quotas for young people.
Articles 132 and 133 regarding the resources to be provided to local government also raised some discussions around the resources of deprived regions, and the suggestion of directing resources from some regions to marginalised ones.
Article 136 on the introduction of mechanisms of participatory democracy and open government is particularly notable, with Noura Ben Hassen (CPR) arguing that Tunisia is the first country in the world to constitutionalise the principle of open government.
A proposal to add reference to “popular petitions and local referenda” as tools for participatory democracy provoked some heated debate.
Vote on title: “Chapter Seven: Local Government” adopted with 140 for, 0 abstentions, 0 against.
Draft: “Local government shall be based on decentralization.
Decentralization shall be embodied in local authorities composed of municipalities, regions and governorates covering the entire territory of the Republic in accordance with a distribution set by law.
Special categories of local authorities may be established by law.”
Unamended article 128 adopted with 162 for, 0 abstentions, 0 against.
Draft: “Local authorities shall enjoy legal personality as well as financial and administrative independence. They shall manage local interests in accordance with the principle of free administration.”
Unamended article 129 adopted with 159 for, 1 abstention, 0 against.
Draft: “Local authorities shall be managed by elected councils.
Municipal and regional councils shall be elected by virtue of general, free, direct, secret, fair and transparent elections.
Governorate councils shall be elected by the members of the municipal and regional councils. The electoral law shall guarantee the representation of youth in local authority councils.”
Unamended article 130 adopted with 158 for, 0 abstentions, 0 against.
Draft: “Local authorities shall enjoy autonomous powers, powers shared with central government, and powers delegated to them from central government.
The joint and delegated powers shall be distributed in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.
Local authorities shall enjoy regulatory power in exercising their mandates. Regulatory decisions of local authorities shall be published in the official gazettes of local authorities.”
Unamended article 131 adopted with 173 for, 1 abstention, 0 against.
Draft: “Local authorities shall have self-generated resources and resources that are provided to them by central government. These resources shall be appropriate to the powers that are assigned to them by law.
All powers that are created or transferred by central government to the local authorities shall be coupled with the corresponding resources required.
The financial system of local authorities shall be governed by law.”
Proposed amendment to add “a portion of income generated from the exploitation of natural resources shall be dedicated to regional development” rejected with 84 for, 45 abstentions, 45 against.
Unamended article 132 adopted with 175 for, 2 abstentions, 1 against.
Draft: “The central government shall guarantee the provision of additional resources to local authorities in order to consolidate the principle of solidarity and mechanism of coordination and balance.
The central government shall work to achieve equivalence between local resources and local burdens.”
Unamended article 133 adopted with 177 for, 2 abstentions, 1 against.
Draft: “Local authorities shall have the freedom to dispose of their resources within the framework of the approved budget in accordance with the rules of good governance and under the supervision of the financial judiciary.”
Unamended article 134 adopted with 182 for, 0 abstentions, 0 against.
Draft: “Local authorities shall, with respect to the legality of their work, be subject to a posteriori oversight.”
Unamended article 135 adopted with 174 for, 3 abstentions, 2 against.
Draft: “Local authorities shall adopt the mechanisms of participatory democracy and the principles of open governance to ensure broader participation by citizens and civil society in the preparation of development programmes and land management and monitoring of their implementation, in accordance with the law.”
Proposed amendment to add “legislative initiatives, popular petitions, consultations and local referenda may be undertaken” rejected with 75 for, 24 abstentions, 66 against.
Unamended article 136 adopted with 182 for, 0 abstentions, 1 against.
Draft: “Local authorities may cooperate and enter into partnerships with each other in order to implement programmes or undertake activities of common interest.
Local authorities may also build foreign relations for partnership and decentralized cooperation.
Rules for cooperation and partnership shall be regulated by law.”
Unamended article 137 adopted with 170 for, 4 abstentions, 0 against.
Draft: “The Council of Local Authorities shall be a representative structure for all councils of local authorities, and its headquarters shall be outside the capital.
The Council of Local Authorities shall examine matters related to development and balance between regions and shall render an opinion with respect to draft laws related to local planning, budgets, and financial issues. The President of the Council of Local Authorities may be invited to attend discussions of the Chamber of Deputies.
The composition and tasks of the Council of Local Authorities shall be regulated by law.”
Proposed amendment to amend the name of the Council to the “Supreme Council of Local Authorities” passed with 164 for, 10 abstentions and 8 against.
Proposed amendment to remove “its headquarters shall be outside the capital” and to add that the President of the Council of Local Authorities may “address the Chamber of Deputies” rejected with 55 for, 32 abstentions, 99 against.
Amended article 138 adopted with 148 for, 17 abstentions, 22 against.
Final version of article 138 as adopted: “The Supreme Council of Local Authorities shall be a representative structure for all councils of local authorities, and its headquarters shall be outside the capital.
The Supreme Council of Local Authorities shall examine matters related to development and balance between regions and shall render an opinion with respect to draft laws related to local planning, budgets, and financial issues. The President of the Supreme Council of Local Authorities may be invited to attend discussions of the Chamber of Deputies.
The composition and tasks of the Supreme Council of Local Authorities shall be regulated by law.”
Draft: “The administrative judiciary shall determine all disputes related to jurisdiction arising among local authorities and between central government and local authorities.”
Unamended article 139 adopted with 175 for, 2 abstentions, 1 against.
Proposal to add New Article
Proposed amendment to add a new article on establishment of bodies to supervise the financial management of local authorities rejected with 43 for, 33 abstentions, 98 against.
Vote on the title: “Chapter Eight: Amendment of the Constitution” adopted with 170 for, 0 abstentions, 0 against.
Draft: “The President of the Republic, or one third of the members of the Chamber of Deputies, shall have the right to propose an amendment to the Constitution. A proposal by the President of the Republic shall have priority.”
Unamended article 140 adopted with 175 for, 2 abstentions, 0 against.
Draft: “No amendment to the Constitution may prejudice:
– Islam, being the religion of the state.
– The Arabic language, being the official language.
– The republican system.
– The civil nature of the state.
– The human rights and freedoms that are guaranteed under the present Constitution.
– The number of presidential terms or their extension.
Consensual amendment to remove this article – passed with 149 for, 19 abstentions, 10 against.
Draft: “Each proposal to amend the Constitution shall be submitted by the President of the Chamber of Deputies to the Constitutional Court to give its opinion as to whether such a proposal is related to an article to which the Constitution has prohibited any amendment.
The Chamber of Deputies shall examine the proposed amendment, with the approval of the absolute majority of the members required for any amendment.
With the exception of the terms set out in article 141, the Constitution shall be amended upon the approval of two-thirds of the members of the Chamber of Deputies. The President shall have the right to submit the amendment to a referendum and it shall be approved in this case by an absolute majority.”
Unamended article 142 adopted with 179 for, 2 abstentions, 1 against.
Vote on the title: “Chapter Nine – Final Provisions” adopted with 181 for, 0 abstentions, 0 against.
Draft: “This Constitution’s preamble is deemed an integral part of the Constitution.”
Unamended article 143 adopted with 172 for, 6 abstentions, 4 against.
Draft: “The Constitution’s provisions shall be interpreted as a harmonious whole.”
Proposed amendment to remove this article rejected with 53 for, 9 abstentions, 113 against.
Unamended article 144 adopted with 138 for, 14 abstentions, 35 against.