President of Tunisia
|President of the Tunisian Republic
رئيس الجمهورية التونسية
Président de la République tunisienne
Standard of the President of Tunisia
|Residence||Carthage Palace, Tunis|
|Term length||Five years, renewable once|
|Inaugural holder||Habib Bourguiba|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The President of Tunisia, formally known as the President of the Tunisian Republic (Arabic: رئيس الجمهورية التونسية, French: Président de la République tunisienne) is the head of state of Tunisia. Tunisia is a parliamentary republic in which the president is the head of state and the prime minister (named Head of Government of Tunisia) as head of government . (Under Article 77 of the Constitution of Tunisia, the president is also the commander-in-chief of the Tunisian Armed Forces.
The president is directly elected by universal suffrage by majority, with a second round between the top two candidates, if neither receives an absolute majority in the first round. A presidential candidate must be at least 35 years old on the day of filing for candidacy, and have the religion of Islam. The candidate must have a Tunisian nationality, and must abandon any other nationality.
Role and powers
The presidents role and powers are defined in title four, part one of the constitution. In addition to being the head of state, the president is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is limited to a maximum of two terms, and may not hold a partisan position. The president has a largely ceremonial role, the main executive power is vested in the government. The Assembly of the Representatives of the People has the right to, by majority, present a motion to impeach the president for a grave violation of the constitution, such a motion would have to be approved by a two-thirds majority of both the assembly and the constitutional court.
Article 77 specifies that the president is responsible for the general state of defence, foreign policy and national security, after consultation with the head of government.
Article 78 specifies that the president is responsible for appointing and dismissing:
- The General Mufti of the Tunisian Republic
- Individuals in senior positions in the Presidency of the Republic and dependent institutions.
- Individuals in senior military and Diplomatic positions, and related to national security, after consultation with the Head of Government.
- The head of the central bank, upon proposal from the head of government after approval from the Assembly of the Representatives of the People.
Article 80 specifies that in exceptional circumstances, the president, after consultation with the government and the president of the assembly may take measures necessitated by the circumstances.
Article 81 specifies that the president has the responsibility of signing laws, and ensure their publication. With the exception of draft constitutional laws, the president has the right to return laws to the assembly with an explanation. A returned law requires approval by an absolute majority of assembly members (as opposed to a majority of members present), or in the case of an organic law, thee-fifths of the assembly members.
Article 82 specifies that the president may in exceptional circumstances put certain draft laws to a referendum.
According to the constitution, the president is elected by universal suffrage for a term of five years. Since the adoption of the current constitution, a president is limited to two terms, whether successive or separated. For example, if incumbent president Beji Caid Essebsi were to return to office in 2024 after leaving office in 2019, he could not run again in 2029. From 1987 to 2002, a president was limited to three terms, but this provision was removed in June 2002. Besides the absolute two-term limit, the 2014 Constitution hedged the presidency about with numerous other checks and balances to prevent a repeat of past authoritarian excesses.
For most of its history as an independent state, Tunisia lacked political democracy in the Western sense, and saw widespread violations of human rights. Because of this, presidential elections in Tunisia, such as that of 2009, lacked international credibility, with elections dominated by the ruling party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally and its previous incarnations as the Neo Destour party and the Socialist Destourian Party. Prior to 1999, presidential candidates had to be endorsed by at least 30 political figures. Given the RCD's near-total domination of Tunisian politics, opposition candidates found it impossible to get their nomination papers signed.
Since the promulgation of a republican constitution in June 1959, three years after gaining independence from France, Tunisia has had just three directly elected presidents. The first president was Habib Bourguiba, who became the country's first president after the proclamation of a republic in 1957; he had effectively served as the country's leader since independence in 1956. He was formally elected to the post in 1959, and was proclaimed president for life in 1975. He was removed from office in a coup d'état in 1987, during which he was declared medically unfit to perform his duties. His successor was Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who served as president from 1987 until 2011, when he was forced from office during an uprising against his rule. The current president, Beji Caid Essebsi, was elected in the country's first free presidential election, held in December 2014.
The 2011 presidential transition
Following Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ousting in January 2011, prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi invoked article 56 of the Constitution regarding temporary absence of the President to assume the role of acting President. This move was deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court hours later and President of the Chamber of Deputies Fouad Mebazaa was appointed as acting President based on article 57 of the Constitution regarding permanent absence of the President. On December 12, 2011, Moncef Marzouki was elected by the newly formed Constituent Assembly as interim President of the Republic.
|Candidates||Parties||First round||Second round|
|Beji Caid Essebsi||Nidaa Tounes||1,289,384||39.46%||1,731,529||55.68%|
|Moncef Marzouki||Congress for the Republic||1,092,418||33.43%||1,378,513||44.32%|
|Hamma Hammami||Popular Front||255,529||7.82%|
|Hechmi Hamdi||Current of Love||187,923||5.75%|
|Slim Riahi||Free Patriotic Union||181,407||5.55%|
|Kamel Morjane||National Destourian Initiative||41,614||1.27%|
|Ahmed Néjib Chebbi||Republican Party||34,025||1.04%|
|Mustapha Ben Jaafar||Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties||21,989||0.67%|
|Mustapha Kamel Nabli (withdrawn)||Independent||6,723||0.21%|
|Larbi Nasra||Voice of the People of Tunisia||6,426||0.20%|
|Hamouda Ben Slama||Independent||5,737||0.18%|
|Mohamed Hamdi (withdrawn)||Democratic Alliance Party||5,593||0.17%|
|Salem Chaïbi||Popular Congress Party||5,245||0.16%|
|Abderraouf Ayadi (withdrawn)||Wafa Movement||3,551||0.11%|
|Abderrahim Zouari (withdrawn)||Destourian Movement||2,701||0.08%|
|Noureddine Hached (withdrawn)||Independent||2,181||0.07%|
|Source: Independent High Authority for Elections.|
|* Excluding Tunisians abroad.|
- "Title four, chapter one". THE CONSTITUTION OF THE TUNISIAN REPUBLIC (Unofficial english translation) (PDF). UNDP and International IDEA. 26 January 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2015.