In Tunisia, the debate about the form of government in the new constitutuon seems to have been resolved.
Up to now, the main party, Ennahdha, proposed a parliamentary regime. However, on Saturday, the three-party coalition in power (Ennahdha, Ettakatol, and the Congrès pour la République – CPR) issued a statement stating that presidential and legislative elections would be held on 23 June 2013. Jeune Afrique also quotes a statement in which they say that they have agreed on “a mixed political regime in which the president will be elected by universal suffrage in order to ensure a between equilibrium of powers within the executive”. Given virtually everyone else in the system wanted semi-presidentialism, it now seems sure that if the constitution is approved, then Tunisia will rejoin the ranks of semi-presidential countries.
However, now all the other issues that go along with constitutional choice come into play. So, for example, the Congress of ‘National Dialogue’ is currently meeting. This is like a ‘national conference’ on the constitution, though Ennahdha and the CPR have officially boycotted the Congress. Without specifying alternative dates, Jeune Afrique reports that key figures in the Congress have argued that the presidential election should be held before the parliamentary election. We know that the sequencing of elections is important. So, this is a major secondary issue. In addition, the Congress has asked the coalition to debate the distribution of power between the president and prime minister. Obviously, this issue is also crucial.
So, the choice of semi-presidentialism is just the first step. To the extent that these institutional choices make a difference to democratic outcomes, then a whole range of other important decisions remain to be made.