June 6, 2023

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Legislature in Tunisia: Risk of mass boycott

Strong fears of a boycott of the December 17, 2022 assembly elections have not ruled out observers leaving the ballot boxes on the day when a large portion of the 9 million registered voters choose the elected members of the future chamber. Representatives (Parliament).

Calls by most political parties and some civil society organizations to ignore this deadline may be heeded by an electorate, it is true, undecided.

In fact, less than 10% of Tunisians (less than 500,000) participated in an electronic consultation organized by Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed earlier in the year.

Ditto for a referendum on a new constitution on July 25, 2022, which was rejected by nearly 70% of voters.

It should be remembered that the referendum on the new constitution on July 25, 2022 was ignored by almost 70% of voters.

To some analysts, Tunisians, worried about their worsening economic and social situation, don’t seem ready to hand over a blank check to a grassroots governance program they still don’t really believe in.

In view of the emergent, bordering on caricature, lackluster and lackluster election campaigning, little-known candidates’ profiles, a designed electoral law and a particularly difficult economic and social climate, the electorate is unlikely. Participate.

Disillusioned by the precarious nature of the situation, endless deficits, rising inflation and limited disaster management in the country’s affairs, they have shown no particular interest in forcing candidates deemed “unfit” to come up with solutions. For annoying questions.

Widespread boycotts risk as Tunisians realize the dice have already been cast with “illegitimate candidates”.

Also, this first assembly election under the new constitution raises wide controversy in one-on-one, two-round and reduced constituencies (161, including 10 overseas).

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Non-concentration of deputy status in any other paid activity, lack of public funding, division of electoral constituencies and their weighting, requirement of sponsorship signed by 400 voters from the same constituency and other legal features have been condemned.

And for good reason, the new Parliament will have very limited powers.

Apart from apathy, voters are mobilized. The number of candidates is insufficient for genuine electoral competition and representation of the diversity of Tunisians.

The principle of equality, in particular, is far from respected, with only 181 women out of 1,055 candidates. It is a strange situation that does not prevent these candidates from hoping to win at least one of the 161 seats in the House of Representatives.

According to observers, the euphoria caused by the changeover on July 25, 2021, thanks to President Saeed assuming all powers, has faded.

The election campaign, which did not generate any public debate worthy of the name, testifies to the fact that it has been conducted in a very casual manner. Apparently, the Electoral Act (September 15, 2022), which introduced the single-member ballot to reject parties, was the catalyst for a massive boycott movement.

Most parties have announced that they will boycott the referendum, except for the “Al-Saab” party, the Movement of Democratic Patriots and the July 25 Movement, a small organization that loudly defends the basic governance plan. farce”.

With only one candidate contesting out of ten constituencies, bets have already been made. Of the other seven, there are simply no fit and to rule in their circumstances, it is necessary to wait for the second round of the Electoral Institution (ISIE), which is heavily criticized for its conformity with the President.

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Most parties, including opposition parties led by the “Ennahda” (Islamist) Front, condemned the “coup against the revolution” and called for a boycott of the election.

Noureddine Taboubi, general secretary of the influential trade union federation, the Tunisian General Workers’ Union (UGTT), quickly took to the stage to strongly criticize the December 17 legislative elections, saying they had no reason to be. A constitution that greatly reduced the role of political parties.

His words are unmistakable. He believes the country is headed for “an election without flavor or colour, which is the result of a constitution that is non-participatory (in its extension) or submitted to majority approval”. Finally, the non-governmental organization “Al Bawsala” announced on December 13 that it would boycott the next parliament.

The NGO said it would refrain from giving legal recognition to a fictitious organization that would be established solely with the intention of supporting President Syed’s orientations by giving its political construction an untrustworthy sense of participatory democracy.

With MAP