Election of the President of the Republic and term of office
1- Eligibility conditions
The Tunisian nationality condition: the presidential candidate shall be Tunisian, having only the Tunisian nationality, and born of parents and grand-fathers, both paternal and maternal, who are Tunisian and have remained as such without discontinuity (article 40 of the constitution)
2- Age condition: the candidate shall be, on the day of submitting his candidacy, at least 40 and at most 75 years old (article 40 of the constitution).
Condition of enjoying civil and political rights: the candidate shall be enjoying all his civil and political rights (article 40 of the constitution).
3- Condition of religion: the candidate shall be of Muslim faith (article 40 of the constitution)
4- Security deposit : each candidate shall make a 5,000-dinar security deposit. This deposit shall only be refunded if the candidate obtains a minimum of 3% of the valid votes (article 66 of the Electoral Code).
5- Presentation of the candidate by elected persons: the candidate shall be presented by elected persons, in accordance with the modalities and conditions set by the Electoral Code. Article 66 of this Code provides that the candidate must be presented, individually or collectively, by at least 30 citizens from among the members of the Chamber of Deputies or the presidents of municipal councils (article 40 of the Constitution).
6- Special dispensation :
Upon the initiative of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, a dispensatory constitutional law was adopted in 1999, allowing, during a transitory phase, to increase candidacies to the presidency of the republic for the 1999 elections without the need for the candidate to be presented by 30 elected persons. Thus, the first official of a political party, that is the president or the secretary general, was entitled, on an exceptional basis, to run as a candidate, on condition that on the day he submits his candidacy, he shall have held that position in his party for at least five consecutive years and that the party has at least one member in the Chamber of Deputies.
Concerning the presidential election of 2004, a constitutional law including dispensatory provisions to paragraph 3 of article 40 of the Constitution was promulgated on May 13, 2003 in order to further relax the candidacy requirements and to reinforce the plurality of presidential candidacies. Thus, failing to fulfill the condition for candidacy presentation provided for in paragraph 3 of article 40 of the constitution, each political party can, on an exceptional basis, present, for the 2004 presidential election, the candidacy of one of the members of its high executive body, on condition that on the day he submits his candidacy application, the concerned person shall have held that position for at least five consecutive years and that the party has one or more members in the Chamber of Deputies. The deputy’s membership of a party is that considered at the time he presents his candidacy to the legislative elections.
7- Presentation of candidacies to the Constitutional Council: the declaration of candidacy shall be recorded in a register specially held for that purpose in the Constitutional Council.
The Constitutional Council shall rule on the validity of candidacies, proclaim the result of the elections, and decide on the relevant petitions submitted to it, in conformity with the provisions of the Electoral Code (article 40 of the constitution).
The President of the Republic is elected by universal, free, direct and secret suffrage, and by the absolute majority of the valid votes, during the last 30 days of the presidential term (article 39 of the Constitution). In case this majority is not obtained in the first round of elections, a second round shall be held on the second Sunday following the ballot day. Only the first two candidates having obtained the highest number of valid votes in the first round may participate in the second round.
The President of the Republic is re-electable
Should the office of President of the Republic become vacant because of death, resignation or absolute disability, the Constitutional Council shall meet immediately and shall certify the definitive vacancy by an absolute majority of its members. It shall send a declaration to that effect to the President of the Chamber of Advisors and to the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies who shall immediately be vested with the functions of interim president of the republic for a period ranging from 45 to 60 days.
During this period, presidential elections shall be organized to elect a new president of the republic for a five-year term of office.