Women Win Big in Tunisia Vote - Miller-McCune
With Tunisia’s ballot boxes closed but not stuffed, the real political winners in the country’s first free election are women.
This election — for an assembly that will write the country’s new constitution — will likely result in the largest percentage of women in any assembly across the Arab world. When the dust settles, about a third of the 217 members of Tunisia’s constituent assembly will be women, twice as many women serving as currently serve in the U.S. Congress.
Working as an official observer for the National Democratic Institute last week, I was struck both by how well women have fared in the new democratic process and how patient and proud many Tunisians were as they were handed a real ballot. Counting those ballots took a full week. But in a part of the world with little experience in administering fair elections, this is a logistical triumph.
Many countries around the world allow election observers, and a modern election can draw hundreds of paid and unpaid observers to watch both campaign politics and the mechanics of elections administration. Elections observers get accredited by the national government, and organizations such as the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, and the Carter Center have built strong reputations for observing elections. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union also had accredited observers, but almost every embassy in Tunis sent out staff on election night just to keep track of events.