Tunisia: The general rate of participation at 8.8% in the legislative elections shunned by the people

Tunisians shunned the ballot boxes on Saturday when they were called upon to renew their Parliament, a ballot wanted by President Kais Saied to put an end to the process initiated by his July 2021 coup.

The general participation rate in the December 17 legislative election in Tunisia reached 8.8%, announced the president of the Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE), Farouk Bouasker on the basis of preliminary official results.

Some 9 million Tunisian voters were called on Saturday to renew the National Assembly (parliament), the same day chosen by President Kais Saied as the new date for the celebration of the revolution, replacing January 14 since 2011.

These elections, unlike any other in its various aspects, see 1,055 candidates vying for the 161 seats, the lowest number ever recorded in all the previous elections the country has known since 2011.

Another factor fueling disaffection: the candidates (1,055), half of whom are teachers or middle-level civil servants, are mostly unknown, and less than 12% are women in a country committed to parity.

According to observers, these are elections like no other due to the de facto exclusion of political parties from this ballot, a disputed two-round first-past-the-post electoral code, a future parliament with limited powers such as stipulated by the new Constitution of July 25, 2022 which gives full powers to the president.

A new Assembly of 161 deputies, with very limited powers, must replace the one that Mr. Saied had frozen on July 25, 2021 (then dissolved in early 2022), arguing that the democratic institutions in place since the fall of dictator Ben Ali in 2011, during the Arab Spring revolt.

However, the president had left his palace in Carthage, soon after the opening of the offices, to vote and mobilize the 9 million voters. “This is a historic opportunity to regain your legitimate rights,” he said.

The main parties are boycotting this vote for which Mr. Saied has imposed a two-round single-member voting system, where candidates cannot display their affiliation. Even the powerful UGTT trade union center deemed these legislative elections unnecessary.

Accusing Mr. Saied of “dictatorial drift”, the National Salvation Front, a coalition of opponents dominated by the Islamist-inspired movement Ennahdha which controlled Parliament for 10 years, had already boycotted the referendum on the Constitution.

Previous Post Next Post