Is it really 7½ or is it better than Switzerland and Sweden? Elections in Tunisia: Numbers and Propaganda


Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:00pm to Sat, 06/25/2022 - 4:10am
On October 26 Tunisians will head to the polls to elect their representatives from 1,500 electoral lists—910 for parties, 158 coalitions and 472 independent lists—with a total of 15,562 candidates. And in a month from this date, they will have a chance to elect (in two rounds) a president from a list of 70 candidates, sieved down to 27 for irregularities. These elections mark the end of the “transition to democracy” stage in the country which sparked the Arab Spring. The previous elections of October 23, 2011 have renewed the debate about electoral design in post-transition countries. We will use its data to mathematically reconstruct the current Tunisian political (social?) map. Our work offers an analysis of the Hare scheme, or method of largest remainders, used to divide seats among the 563 parties and independent lists which ran in 2011. We will gauge this method against other well-known schemes used in the U.S., Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, and Sweden. We will discuss the cubic root law used to derive the mysterious 217—size of the Tunisian parliament—and explain why Marzouki is President of Tunisia with anywhere between 40% and 60% of the popular vote. Part of the talk will explore the propaganda used by parties over the last 3 years and major political developments. Our work aims at improving the design of the system and argues for a celebration of the nascent democracy, despite the difficulties of the birth. Joint work with Faten Ghosn.
Lotfi Hermi is Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Arizona. A graduate of the University of Missouri—Columbia, his academic carrier includes visits to Marshall University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research interests center around various aspects of spectral analysis and optimization, specifically dealing with geometric and universal bounds of eigenvalues, spectral isoperimetric inequalities (the Queen Dido Problem), semiclassical analysis, and their applications to pattern recognition; and Voting Theory. In 2004, together with Deb Hughes Hallett and Bill McCallum, he developed lecture notes and excel materials exploring aspects of electoral design ( He has co-organized the “Learning Technologies and Mathematics Middle East Conference” (Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat) and the “International Conference on the Isoperimetric Problem of Queen Dido and its Mathematical Ramifications” (Carthage, Tunisia).


MENAS Colloquium Series
Friday, October 24, 2014
3pm in Marshall 490

Video of the talk

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