Tunisians elect an innocuous parliament in the shadow of President Syed

Tunisians elect an innocuous parliament in the shadow of President Syed

Tunisians elect their representatives on Saturday in elections boycotted by the majority of parties, the last step in building a super-presidential system since the coup a year and a half ago by head of state Gais Sai.

The election comes after three weeks of lackluster campaigning, with very few candidate posters on the streets and no serious debate, with people worried above all by the continuing deterioration of living conditions.

Saeed is due to replace the frozen chamber with a new chamber of 161 deputies on July 25, 2021, after months of obstruction by institutions since the fall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

The parliament that results from the legislative elections – after a second round organized in early March – will have more limited powers under the new constitution, which Syed adopted in a popular referendum (nearly 70%) this summer.

He cannot impeach the President and it is practically impossible for him to condemn the government. Ten delegates are needed to propose a law and the president must prioritize passing his own law.

Saeed has imposed a new first-past-the-post two-round voting system that greatly reduces the role of political parties, with candidates not nominated.

“Not an Event”

“This vote is a formality to complete the political system imposed by Qais Syed and concentrate power in his hands,” political scientist Hamza Medeb told AFP.

“Tunisians know that there will be no political strength in parliament and that all powers will be taken away,” he said, adding that there would be a “very low” turnout.

“There is no electoral context (…) it is not an event,” Medep says.

The political scientist adds that the candidates, who are not well known by the general public, are “new to politics and unable to mobilize in a very degraded economic environment”.

According to the Tunisian Observatory for Democratic Transition, half of the candidates (1,058) were teachers or mid-level civil servants. Women represent less than 15% of applicants, whereas the balance of applications was previously mandatory.

The main concern of the 12 million Tunisians (including 9 million voters) is the high cost of living, along with nearly 10% inflation and persistent food shortages (milk, sugar).

The election was boycotted by most parties, including President Syed’s sworn opponent Ennahda, an Islamist-inspired movement.

The powerful UGTT trade union center has been highly critical of Saeed’s policies recently, deeming these legislative elections unnecessary.


Al Bawsala, an NGO that has been investigating parliamentary proceedings since 2014, announced it would boycott the work of a “puppet legislature” whose role, according to it, would be limited to “supporting the orientations of the president.”

Hamish Kinnear, an analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, believes that establishing a parliament would “facilitate Tunisia’s key external relations” if he sees the ballot above all as “a tool used by President Syed to lend legitimacy to his monopoly of power”. Allies, end 17 months of constitutional uncertainty

According to him, it will be easier to get help from donors, “thanks to the return to greater political predictability, even if the democratic legitimacy of parliamentary elections is weak”.

Urgent as the country’s coffers are empty.

The IMF, which had on Monday given the green light to Tunisia’s fourth loan in ten years (about $2 billion), postponed its decision until early January at the request of the Tunisian government, whose file is not fully closed. , according to sources familiar with the matter at AFP.

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