Tunisian general election, 1989

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General elections were held in Tunisia on 2 April 1989. It was the first time presidential elections had been held since 1974, as Habib Bourguiba had been declared President-for-life the following year. However, his replacement, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was the only candidate to obtain endorsements from 30 political figures, as required by the Constitution. As a result, he was unopposed for a full term.[1]

In the Chamber of Deputies election, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (a renamed Socialist Destourian Party) won 80.6 percent of the vote and all 141 seats. According to official figures, voter turnout was 76.5% in the parliamentary election and 76.1% in the presidential election.[2]



Summary of the 2 April 1989 Tunisian presidential election results
Candidates Parties Votes  %
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali Constitutional Democratic Rally 2,087,028 100
Blank or invalid votes 15,348 -
Total 2,102,351 100.00

Chamber of Deputies[edit]

Summary of the 2 April 1989 Tunisian Chamber of Deputies election results
Parties Votes  % Seats +/–
Constitutional Democratic Rally 1,633,004 80.6 141 +16
Movement of Socialist Democrats 76,250 3.8 - new
Party of People's Unity 13,596 0.7 - new
Unionist Democratic Union 7,912 0.4 - new
Leftist Coalition 7,619 0.3 - new
Progressive Socialist Party 5,720 0.4 - new
Social Party for Progress 5,270 0.3 - new
Socialist Progressive Rally 4,054 0.2 - new
IRSP 1,224 0.1 - new
Independents 277,155 13.7 - -
Valid votes 2,041,883 98.4 141 +16
Blank or invalid votes 31,836 1.6
Total 2,073,719 100.0
Voter turnout 76.5
Electorate 2,711,925
Source: Nohlen et al.


Although the elections were the closest Tunisia had come to a free election at the time, the results were heavily contested.

Different sources offer ostensibly official figures that diverge significantly, most notably in respect to the share of votes received by the Ennahda Movement. Without official recognition as a party, the party fielded independent candidates that received between 10% and 17% of the vote nationally according to different "official" results quoted by different academics.[3][4][5][6][7]

Both the legal opposition and the Ennahda Movement charged the government with electoral fraud, with the Ennahda Movement claiming to have received between 60-80% of votes.[8] According to other analysts, the elections demonstrated the staying power of the state party RCD, which had expanded its membership in the run-up to the election to encompass nearly 40% of the registered electorate [9][10]


  1. ^ Dickovick, J. Tyler (2008). The World Today Series: Africa 2012. Lanham, Maryland: Stryker-Post Publications. ISBN 978-161048-881-5. 
  2. ^ Nohlen, D, Krennerich, M & Thibaut, B (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, pp919-20 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
  3. ^ Leveau, Rémy, ‘La Tunisie du Président Ben Ali: Equilibre interne et environnement arabe,’ Maghreb-Machrek No. 124 (1989), p10
  4. ^ Burgat, François and William Dowell, The Islamic Movement in North Africa, 2nd Edition (Austin, 1997), p234
  5. ^ Murphy, Emma C., Economic and Political Change in Tunisia: From Bourguiba to Ben Ali, (Basingstoke/London, 1999), p180
  6. ^ Hermassi, Abdelbaki, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Islamist Movement in Tunisia,’ in Laura Guazzone (ed.), The Islamist Dilemma (Reading, 1995), pp118-119
  7. ^ A. Dahmani ‘Tunisie: L’accès aux medias et le code electoral,’ Jeune Afrique (22 January 1990), p33
  8. ^ Daoud, Zakya, ‘Chronique Tunisienne,’ Annuaire de l’Afrique du Nord Vol. 28 (1989), p685
  9. ^ Daoud, Zakya, Chronique Tunisienne,’ Annuaire de l’Afrique du Nord Vol. 29 (1990), p784
  10. ^ Daoud, Zakya, ‘Chronique Tunisienne,’ Annuaire de l’Afrique du Nord Vol. 28 (1989), p684