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Shafik Sarsar's resignation as head of Tunisia's Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE) on May 9, together with two other board members, cast the authority's decision to hold the next municipal elections on Dec. 17, 2017 into further doubt.Most importantly, the new code is expected to help local authorities be more financially independent: Currently, only 4 percent of the government's budget is devoted to municipalities, lower than other countries in the region, such as Morocco, which gives them 11 percent of the budget.While it is legal to organize the elections without first adopting the new code on local authorities, this could impact the country's reform process. Many civil and political actors agree that the Code on Local Authorities must be adopted before organizing Tunisia's first free and democratic elections at the local level since 2011 . If the long and contentious process of adopting the Law on Local and Regional Elections is any guide, the Code on Local Authorities is still likely to face similar delays and become subject to partisan debate after elections. Political parties that do well in the local elections will support devolving greater authority to the municipal councils they control, hoping that this also means they have the local popularity necessary to do well in the 2019 parliamentary elections.
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