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Constitution of Tunisia (2008) – 2: The Legislative Power

CHAPTER TWO 
THE LEGISLATIVE POWER

Article 18[8]
The people shall exercise the legislative power through the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors or through referendum.[9]

The members of the Chamber of Deputies shall be elected by universal, free, direct and secret suffrage, according to the modalities and conditions determined by the Elections Act.

Article 19[10]
The Chamber of Councilors shall be composed of members whose number shall not exceed two-thirds of the members of the Chamber of Deputies. The Elections Act shall determine the manner in which this number is fixed every six years, taking into account the number of members of the current Chamber of Deputies.

The members of the Chamber of Councilors shall be distributed as follows:

One member or two for each governorate, depending on the number of inhabitants, shall be elected at the regional level, from among the elected members of the local communities.

One-third of the members of the Chamber shall be elected at the national level, from among the employers, the farmers, and the wage earners; the candidacies shall be proposed by the competent professional organizations, in the form of lists containing at least twice as many seats as are reserved for each category. The seats shall be distributed evenly between the different sectors.

The members of the Chamber of Councilors shall be elected by free and direct suffrage by the elected members of the local communities.

The Elections Act shall determine the modalities and the conditions of the election of the members of the Chamber of Councilors.

The President of the Republic shall appoint the remaining members of the Chamber of Councilors from among the national personalities and authorities.

The members of the Chamber of Councilors shall not be tied to local or sectional interests.

The accumulation of elective functions at the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors shall be inadmissible.

Article 20[11]
Every citizen who has been a Tunisian national for at least five years, has attained at least eighteen years of age and fulfills the requirements defined by the Elections Act shall have the right to vote.

Article 21[12]
Any voter, born of a Tunisian father or of a Tunisian mother, who is at least twenty three years of age on the day of submission of his candidacy, is eligible for election to the Chamber of Deputies.

A candidate to the Chamber of Councilors must be born of a Tunisian father or a Tunisian mother, be at least forty years of age on the day of submission of his candidacy, and have the right to vote.

These conditions shall apply to all members of the Chamber of Councilors.

A candidate to the Chamber of Councilors must also have, depending on the circumstances, a professional qualification which entitles him to stand as a candidate for the group of the employers or that of the farmers or wage earners.

Every member of the Chamber of Deputies or of the Chamber of Councilors shall take the following oath before assuming his functions:

“I swear by God the Almighty to loyally serve my country, to preserve the Constitution and my exclusive allegiance to Tunisia.”

Article 22[13]
The Chamber of Deputies shall be elected for a term of five years in the course of the last thirty days of its mandate.

The term of the members of the Chamber of Councilors is fixed at six years; the Chamber’s composition shall be renewed by half every three years.

Article 23[14]
If it is impossible to hold the elections due to war or imminent danger, the current terms of the Chamber of Deputies or the Chamber of Councilors shall be extended by statute adopted by the Chamber of Deputies until it is possible to proceed with the elections. In this case the extension shall apply to the remaining members of the Chamber of Councilors.

Article 24[15]
The seat of the Chamber of Deputies and the seat of the Chamber of Councilors shall be established in Tunis or its surroundings; however, in exceptional circumstances either of the two Chambers or both Houses may hold their sessions in any other place  of the territory of the Republic.

Article 25
Every deputy shall be the representative of the entire Nation.

Article 26[16]
A member of the Chamber of Deputies or a member of the Chamber of Councilors may not be prosecuted, arrested or tried for opinions expressed, proposals made or acts carried out in the exercise of his mandate within each Chamber.

Article 27[17]
No member of the Chamber of Deputies or the Chamber of Councilors may be prosecuted or arrested during his term of office for a crime or misdemeanor before the Chamber concerned has not lifted the immunity which covers him.

However, he may be arrested if he is caught in the act of committing an offense. The Chamber concerned shall be informed without delay. The detention shall be suspended if the Chamber concerned so requires.

Article 28[18]
The Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors shall exercise the legislative power. The right to introduce Bills shall be exercised concurrently by the President of the Republic and the members of the Chamber of Deputies.

The Bills submitted by the President of the Republic shall enjoy priority.

The Bills submitted by members of the Chamber of Deputies shall not be admissible where their enactment would result in a diminution of public revenue or in the increase of existing public expenditure, or in new expenditure.

These provisions shall apply to any amendments proposed to Bills.

The Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors may authorize the President of the Republic to issue within a fixed time limit and for a specific purpose decree laws which he shall submit, depending on the case, to the approval of the Chamber of
Deputies or of both Houses upon expiration of the time limit.

The Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors shall adopt draft Institutional Acts by absolute majority and ordinary Bills by a majority of the members present, provided that this majority constitutes not less than one-third of the membership of the Chamber concerned.

The statutes provided for in Articles 4, 8, 9, 10, 33, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71 and 75 of the Constitution shall have the character of Institutional Acts. The Elections Act shall be adopted in the form of an Institutional Act.

Finance Bills shall be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors.

The Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors shall vote on the Finance Bills and the Bill on the execution of the budget in accordance with the conditions stipulated in the Institutional Act on the budget. If by the date of December 31 the
Chamber of Councilors has not adopted the Finance Bills while they have been passed by the Chamber of Deputies, they shall be submitted to the President of the Republic for promulgation.

The budget must be voted at the latest by December 31. If upon expiration of that period the two Chambers have not taken a decision, the provisions of the Finance Bills shall be implemented by decree, in installments renewable every four months.

Article 29[19]
The Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors shall meet each year in ordinary session which shall begin during the month of October and end during the month of July. However, the first session of the term of Chamber of Deputies shall start within fifteen days of its election. The same delay shall apply on the occasion of the renewal of half of the membership of the Chamber of Councilors.

If the first session of the term of the Chamber of Deputies coincides with its recess, a session of fifteen days shall be opened.

During their recess, the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors shall meet in extraordinary session upon the request of the President or of the majority of the members of the Chamber of Deputies to discuss a specific agenda.

Article 30[20]
The Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors shall elect from among their members permanent commissions which shall function without interruption, even during the recess of the two Chamber.

The Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors shall elect from among their members commissions to discuss the draft Development Plan and others to examine the Finance Bills. Each Chamber shall also elect from among its members a special commission for immunity issues and a special commission for the elaboration or amendment of the rules of procedure.

Article 31[21]
During the recess of the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors the President of the Republic may adopt decree-laws which shall be submitted, depending on the case, to the approval of the Chamber of Deputies or of both Houses during the ordinary session following the end of the recess.

Article 32[22]
The President of the Republic shall ratify the treaties. Treaties concerning the borders of the State, trade agreements, treaties relating to international organization, treaties committing the finances of the State, treaties concerning provisions which are the preserve of statute law or relating to the status of persons may be ratified only after their approval by the Chamber of Deputies.

Treaties do not have the force of law until after their ratification and subject to the condition that they are applied by the other party.

Treaties ratified by the President of the Republic and approved by the Chamber of Deputies shall prevail over statutes.

Article 33[23]
The Bills introduced by the President of the Republic shall be submitted, depending on the case, to the Chamber of Deputies or two both Houses.

The President of the Chamber of Deputies shall inform the President of the Republic and the President of the Chamber of Councilors of the adoption of a Bill by the Chamber of Deputies; the information shall be accompanied by the text which has been adopted.

The Chamber of Councilors shall complete the debate on the Bill adopted by the Chamber of Deputies within a maximum period of fifteen days.

When the Chamber of Deputies adopts the Bill without introducing amendments, the President of the Chamber shall submit it for promulgation to the President of the Republic and shall inform the President of the Chamber of Councilors, attaching the text which has been adopted.

If the Chamber of Councilors does not adopt the text within the time limits established in paragraph 3 of the present Article, the President of the Chamber of Deputies shall submit the Bill which has been adopted by the Chamber of Deputies to the President of the Republic for promulgation.

When the Chamber of Councilors adopts the Bill with amendments the President of the Chamber of Councilors shall submit the Bill to the President of the Republic and shall inform the President of the Chamber of Deputies. A joint commission composed of members of both Houses shall be established upon proposal by the Government in order to elaborate within a week a joint text approved by the Government on those provisions which are disputed between both Houses.

In case of agreement on a joint text the latter shall be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies for a final decision within a week; however, this text may only be amended following the agreement of the Government.

The President of the Chamber of Deputies shall submit to the President of the Republic, depending on the case, either the Bill which the Chamber has adopted without accepting amendments or the amended Bill which has been adopted by said
Chamber for promulgation.

If the joint commission does not manage to produce a joint text within the aforementioned time limits, the President of the Chamber of Deputies shall submit to the President of the Republic the Bill adopted by said Chamber for promulgation.

The procedures provided for in paragraphs 2 and 4 of the present Article shall apply to Bills proposed by members of the Chamber of Deputies. If amendments to the Bill are accepted by the Chamber of Councilors, a joint commission composed of members of both Houses shall be established in order to elaborate within a week a joint text on the provisions which form the object of the dispute. In the case of adoption of a joint text, the latter shall be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies for a final decision. In this case, paragraph 8 of the present Article shall apply.

During the recess of the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Councilors the time limits provided for in the present Article shall be suspended.

The organization of work in each of the two Houses shall be regulated by statute and the rules of procedure. Statute shall also regulate the relations between the two Houses.

Article 34[24]
The texts on the following matters shall be adopted in the form of a statute:

  • the general modalities of the application of the Constitution other than those which have to be regulated by Institutional Act;
  • the creation of categories of public legal entities and public enterprises;
  • citizenship, the status of persons and obligations;
  • the procedure before different sets of courts;
  • the determination of crimes and offences and the penalties which apply to them, as well as penal contraventions which carry sanctions consisting in the deprivation of liberty;
  • to amnesty;
  • the base, rates and methods of collection of taxes, insofar as the relevant authority is not delegated to the President of the Republic by virtue of Finance Acts and Fiscal Acts;
  • the issuing of currency;
  • loans and financial obligations of the State;
  • the fundamental guarantees granted to civil servants and members of the Armed Forces.

Statute shall determine the basic principles:

  • of property law and property rights;
  • of education
  • of public health;
  • of labor law and social security.

Article 35[25]
Matters other than those coming under the scope of statute law shall be matters for regulation. The texts relating to these matters may be modified by decree following review by the Constitutional Council.

The President of the Republic may oppose as inadmissible any Bill or draft amendment which relates to a matter falling within the preserve of regulatory powers. The President of the Republic shall submit the issue to the Constitutional Council which shall issue its decision within a maximum period of ten days following the submission.

Article 36[26]
The Development Plan shall be approved by statute.

The revenue and the expenditure of the State shall be authorized by statute in the conditions determined by the Institutional Act on the budget.

Next: Chapter 3 – The Executive Power

[8] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002 which created the Chamber of Councilors as second parliamentary chamber.
[9] Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 5 of Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 provide: “The Chamber of Deputies shall exercise the legislative powers alone until the constitution of the Chamber of Councilors and the adoption of its rules of procedure. The Chamber of Councilors shall meet in the fifteen days following its constitution.”
[10] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 76-37 of 8 April 1976 and Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[11] The last phrase was added by Constitutional Act No. 97-65 of October 27, 1997. Constitutional Act No. 2008-52 of July 28, 2008 has lowered the age of voting from 20 to 18.
[12] Constitutional Act No. 97-65 of October 1997 reduced the required age for election to the Chamber of Deputies from twenty-five to twenty-three years and extended eligibility to those voters who are Tunisians by maternal descent. It also introduced the formula for the oath to be taken by the newly-elected Deputies. Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002 introduced the rules on eligibility for the members of the Chamber of Councilors, including the oath of office (new paragraphs 2 to 5).
[13] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 76-37 of April 8, 1976, and Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002, which added the second paragraph. Article 5, paragraph 3 of that Act provides that “contrary to the provisions of Article 22 (new)
of the Constitution, half of the membership of the Chamber of Councilors shall be renewed, during its first term and at the end of the third year of that term, by the drawing of lots, taking into account the distribution of seats applied in the establishment of the Chamber, and in accordance with the modalities and conditions which have made possible the membership in the Chamber; the drawing of lots and the renewal must be concluded before the end of that period.”
[14] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 76-37 of April 8, 1976 and by Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002 (insertion of the provisions concerning the Chamber of Councilors).
[15] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 76-37 of April 8, 1976 and by Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[16] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[17] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[18] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 88-88 of July 25, 1988 and by Constitutional Act 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[19] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 67-23 of June 30, 1967 and by Constitutional Act 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[20] As amended by Constitutional No. Act 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[21] As amended by Constitutional No. Act 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[22] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 97-65 of October 27, 1997 and by Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[23] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 76-37 of April 8, 1976 and by Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[24] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 76-37 of April 8, 1976.
[25] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 97-65 of October 27, 1997 and by Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[26] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 76-37 of April 8, 1976

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