Tunisia: Opposition calls for unity against Saïed after another electoral setback

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Tunisia : the opposition calls for unity against Saïed after another electoral setback

The young people who had carried the current president in power in 2019 shunned the ballot box this time.

The legislative elections in Tunisia have generated little interest.

The main coalition of opponents in Tunisia called on Sunday to form a united political and union front to oust President Kaïs Saïed after a record abstention rate during a ballot to elect the new Parliament.

The National Salvation Front (FSN) has called on other opposition parties, civil society and the powerful UGTT trade union center to work hand in hand to create change through the departure of Kaïs Saïed and to call an election. early presidential election.

According to Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, president of the FSN, which includes the Islamist-inspired party Ennahdha, the meager turnout of 11.3% – according to results preliminaries – announced for the second round of legislative elections on Sunday proves once again the total failure of Kaïs Saïed.

This means that nearly 89% have turned their backs on this play and refused to participate in Mr. Saïed's political process, he said.

The opposition has called on civil society and trade unions to unite to dislodge President Kaïs Saïed. (File photo)

The first round had already been marked by an abstention of almost 90%, a record since the advent of democracy in the cradle country of the Arab Spring, where some polls brought together up to 70% of voters in the last decade.

I don't trust the political class. Saïed could make a radical change. He […] did nothing, laments Omrane Dhouib, a 37-year-old non-voting baker interviewed in Tunis.

The election of 131 deputies (out of 161 seats, of which 30 have already been filled in the first round) represents the final stage of the reforms imposed for 18 months by President Kaïs Saïed in order to return to a hyper-presidentialist system, similar to that before the 2011 revolution and the fall of dictator Ben Ali.

Considering the country ungovernable, Mr. Saïed seized all powers on July 25, 2021, then revised the Constitution last summer to abolish the hybrid parliamentary system in force.

Experts attributed the low turnout to various factors, including a call for a boycott of the poll by the main political parties.

Despite deep divisions which prevent him from mobilizing in the street, the opposition unanimously denounced a process described as a coup d'etat and Mr. Saïed's dictatorial drift.

Another reason: the majority of the candidates were unknown and without political affiliation.

The few voters therefore made personal choices.

Belhassen Ben Safta, a 60-year-old taxi driver, voted never to let the old system [Ennahdha] have a chance to come back. They are responsible for our misery.

In Gafsa, a hundred kilometers further south, Mohamed Tlijani and Ali Krimi, two fifties, came to vote for a cousin, believing they had the right to be represented in Parliament.

The country has seen several demonstrations against the regime of President Saied. (File photo)

According to experts, part of the population who share Mr. Saïed's aversion to political parties approve of his limitation of the powers of the future parliament. It will be very difficult for him to overthrow the government and it will be impossible for him to dismiss the president.

Given the population's lack of interest in politics, this parliament will have little legitimacy: the president , all-powerful thanks to the Constitution of 2022, will be able to dominate it as it pleases, note for AFP Youssef Cherif, expert of the Columbia Global Centers.

L' attention of the 12 million Tunisians is elsewhere.

I never vote. All economic sectors are suffering and Saïed is not interested in it, denounces Mohamed Abidi, a 51-year-old waiter in Tunis. purchasing plummet with double-digit inflation and endure shortages of subsidized foodstuffs like milk, sugar or oil.

For economists, they come from shortages of #x27;supply, because the State lacks cash to pay for these centralized purchases.

Growth is sluggish (less than 3%), unemployment high (more than 15%), poverty is on the rise and more than 32,000 Tunisians have emigrated illegally a year past.

Further cause for concern: Negotiations with the IMF for a $1.9 billion loan, key to other foreign aid, have stalled for decades. month. This led the American agency Moody's to downgrade Tunisia's long-term debt rating by another notch on Saturday, deeming the risk of a default to be higher.

The deadlock in the talks is said to be due to disagreements between President Saïed and his government over the program submitted to the IMF in exchange for its aid.

Mr. Saïed is reluctant, according to experts, to adopt unpopular measures such as the lifting of subsidies on basic products and the restructuring of over-indebted public companies, which are considered to be too numerous.