Participants and speakers at the conference in Tunis
Participants and speakers at the conference in Tunis

On 12 and 13 December 2019, the IRZ, in cooperation with the Tunisian Administrative Court (Tribunal Administratif), the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and the Arab Union of Administrative Judiciary (Union Arabe de l‘ordre Administratif) organised an international conference on “Administrative jurisdiction and election disputes” in Tunis. The event was held as part of the judicial reform project in Tunisia, which the IRZ coordinated between 2017 and 2019 with the support of the German Foreign Office.

The aim of the conference was to enable a multilateral exchange of experiences on the subject with EU member states and partner countries of the entire MENA region. High-ranking representatives of supreme administrative and constitutional courts from Germany, Egypt, France, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia took part in the event, speaking about the legal framework for election verification processes in their own countries. The conference was opened by the President of the Tunisian parliament. From Germany, Prof. Dr. Christine Langenfeld, a judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, and Michael Groepper, a former judge at the German Federal Administrative Court, were appointed by the IRZ to take part in the conference.

Prof. Dr. Langenfeld gave a lecture focussing on the legal framework for parliamentary elections in Germany. She also talked about electoral freedom, which should guarantee that the process of political opinion forming remains free and independent. Michael Groepper pointed out that a specific feature of the German legal system is its federal nature. This makes it very different from the centralist system in France, which the Tunisian legal system, for example, has also largely been based on until now. Due to the considerable differences compared with the German system, the lectures provided an interesting basis for discussions.

The Tunisians talked about the latest developments in the legal system and the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections. Overall, they found that both elections were a success and this was also confirmed by election observers from other countries. The positive development of the election process has inspired trust and credibility in civil society. However, Tunisia’s transition to a democratic constitutional state still has major challenges to face. In this respect, the participants discussed the role of the media during election campaigns and the role of civil society, political parties and foreign observers in the monitoring of election campaigns.

The conference continued the ongoing cooperation with the Tunisian Administrative Court and was the follow-up event to a seminar on “Election complaints and the legal evaluation of election results in election disputes”, which the IRZ organised as part of this project alongside the Tunisian Administrative Court on 8 and 9 July 2019 in Tunis.