Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi. Photo: Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The death of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on Thursday will complicate the country's upcoming elections and may spell the end of his increasingly fractious Nidaa Tounes political party.

The big picture: The 92-year-old leader was Tunisia's first democratically elected president. It could now fall to the interim president, 85-year-old Speaker of Parliament Mohammed Ennaceur, to finalize the Constitutional Court — a body whose absence has stunted the democratic transition as parliament has failed to agree on the court's number of members.

Where it stands: Tunisia was already scheduled to hold presidential elections on November 17, yet the ISIE — Tunisia's electoral body —announced it would move the elections up to September 15, to comply with a constitutional requirement that new elections be held within 90 days of the president’s death.

  • The ISIE has been plagued with logistical and political challenges in the past and may not be able to handle this curveball.
  • With less than 8 weeks remaining, the condensed electoral calendar leaves candidates far less time to prepare their campaigns.

What's happening: The interim president must decide what to do about a controversial electoral law, passed by parliament in June, that would both raise the electoral threshold from 3% to 5% and exclude some popular presidential candidates, including television magnate Nabil Karoui, from the race.

  • Essebsi had not signed the law before he died, leaving it in limbo. Should Ennaceur, a member of Essebsi’s party, sign the law, he would betray the deceased president’s wishes.

The impact: Essebi's death could lead to the unraveling of the Nidaa Tounes party, which in recent years has suffered from in-fighting and lacked a coherent vision.

  • Its traditional political rival, the Islamist party Ennahda, is likely to see gains. One member, Abdelfatah Mourou, was sworn in as speaker of the Assembly during the post-Essebsi transition, granting the party a prominent position of power ahead of the elections.
  • Prime Minister Youssef Chahed — who frequently sparred with Essebi and his son, the head of Nidaa Tounes — may stand to benefit most from the early elections. A 42-year-old with little political experience, he struggled to develop his own agenda as Essebsi impinged on his role. Chahed will have to prove that he and his new Tahya Tounes party can address the country’s economic challenges more successfully.

Sarah Yerkes is a fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Biden speaks to Mexican president about reversing Trump's "draconian immigration policies"

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Biden told his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on a phone call Friday that he plans to reverse former President Trump’s “draconian immigration policies.”

The big picture: The Biden administration has already started repealing several of Trump’s immigration policies, including ordering a 100-day freeze on deporting many unauthorized immigrants, halting work on the southern border wall, and reversing plans to exclude undocumented people from being included in the 2020 census.