What authority does the president have under article 80 of the 2014 constitution of Tunisia?

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On July 25, the president of Tunisia, Kais Saied, cited article 80 of the ratified 2014 constitution to declare a national emergency. The presidential order suspended the parliament for 30 days, dismissed the prime minister, and lifted immunity on parliamentarians. Here is a translation of the article that the president is relying on to justify and enforce his declaration.


Article 80 * Emergency provisions

In the event of imminent danger threatening the nation’s institutions or the security or independence of the country, and hampering the normal functioning of the state, the President of the Republic may take any measures necessitated by the exceptional circumstances, after consultation with the Head of Government and the Speaker of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People and informing the President of the Constitutional Court. The President shall announce the measures in a statement to the people. The measures shall guarantee, as soon as possible, a return to the normal functioning of state institutions and services. The Assembly of the Representatives of the People shall be deemed to be in a state of continuous session throughout such a period. In this situation, the President of the Republic cannot dissolve the Assembly of the Representatives of the People and a motion of censure against the government cannot be presented.

Thirty days after the entry into force of these measures, and at any time thereafter, the Speaker of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People or thirty of the members thereof shall be entitled to apply to the Constitutional Court with a view to verifying whether or not the circumstances remain exceptional. The Court shall rule upon and publicly issue its decision within a period not exceeding fifteen days.

These measures cease to be in force as soon as the circumstances justifying their implementation no longer apply. The President of the Republic shall address a message to the people to this effect.

The measures taken thus far seem constitutional. The only problem is that the branch of government that is supposed to check his power and review such declaration, namely the constitutional court, does not exist yet. Politicians have failed to agree on the composition, procedures, and processes of creating this critical institution and many of those politicians may come to regret their lack of sense of urgency in creating it for more than six years.


Text of article 80 of the 2014 constitution of Tunisia

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