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The youth NGO “Jeunes Démocrates Indépendants" (JID) has developed an E-platform to help Tunisian citizens reflect upon their political choices for the next elections.
The aim of the voting-tool “ikhtiar” (literally: choice in Arabic) is to provide an overview of the political parties and their programs through a set of 30 key questions for the parliamentarian and, later, presidential elections.
The program aims to equip Tunisian voters with a transparent instrument encouraging citizens to develop their own political opinion: the project supports Tunisia through its democratic transition process via E-democracy.
In this framework, JID has launched its website on September 17th in Tunis: http://www.ikhtiartounes.org/. The NGO is also organizing seven events throughout the country to promote this initiative beyond the capital of Tunis.
As stated in the press release, "the online questionnaire helps voters with their choice of party for the elections," said Zied Boussen, spokesperson of the JID Board. "The person who visits ikhtiartounes.org would answer 30 questions with a choice of 'Agree', 'Disagree' or 'No opinion'. The website then compares their answers with the stances of political parties, presenting the user with a selection of parties corresponding to their choices."
JID has, in effect, sent the very questionnaire to every registered political party. "Up until now, several parties have responded within the time limit," said Youssef Blaïech, President of the Monastir section of JID. "Some have refused to answer while others were unreachable, and some have never returned the questionnaire despite our insistence."
The questionnaire on ikhtiartounes.org supplies the positions of political parties with respect to key concerns of the Tunisian citizen: e.g. economic, social, education, health, decentralization and territorial organization, rule of law and justice, youth, freedom and equality, media, civil society and environment.
Ikhtiartounes and its questionnaire were created by JID with the assistance of a committee composed of independent Tunisian experts (who are not candidates in the elections, and are well-known for their integrity and experience). "We decided to set a limit of 30 arguments - those we considered to be the most relevant. We were forced to make choices in order not to render the questionnaire too cumbersome," says Farah El Mokhtar, an active member of the association.
The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The "Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit" (GIZ) provided technical assistance in its implementation.
Mr. Rainer Krischel, Director of GIZ in Tunisia explained: “After the elections in 2011, GIZ wanted to renew its support towards this instrument, which was a success in Tunisia with more than 70.000 users visiting the website to answer the key questions”.
ikhtiartounes.org has been inspired by a similar instrument which was introduced at the German parliamentarian elections (called Wahlomat) in 1998. It has been implemented for the first time in Tunisia by JID for the National Constituent Assembly elections in October 2011.
*Agnes Wiedemann is head of the project “Electionnaire”. She is working as coordinator for the network CoMun in the Maghreb region (contact: email@example.com)