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Dhaka Tribune

Tunisia's parliamentary election sees 11% voter turnout

The tepid turnout of 11.3%, according to provisional figures, came as opposition groups boycotted the election

Update : 30 Jan 2023, 01:10 PM

Voters shunned Tunisia's parliamentary elections Sunday, with only 11.3% showing up to the booths, according to provisional figures. The numbers were almost as low as the first round, held in December 2022.

The elections were seen as a test in Saied's move to consolidate power, but the legitimacy is now being questioned due to the low turnout.

The influential Islamist party Ennahdha and other opposition movements boycotted the elections.

The last parliament, led by Ennahdha, was suspended in 2021 and later disbanded. Saied also altered the country's constitution to reduce the legislature's power, and give himself more autonomy.

What we know about the election

In the first round, 10 candidates secured seats without getting any votes, as they ran unopposed. For seven constituencies, there were no candidates. Electoral officers said those seats would be filled in special elections later. 

Independent organizations such as Chahed (Witness) and Mourakiboun (Controllers) said some polling station heads refused to provide observers access to data on the turnout.

Chahed also said rules against election day campaigning were violated, and that authorities used administrative vehicles to transport voters to their stations.

An official from the electoral commission denied wrongdoing, but said there might have been "isolated cases" of issues.

The vice president of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists, Amira Mohamed, said on Mosaique Radio that journalists were barred from some voting stations.

Low government popularity

The opposition Work and Achievement Party, which had boycotted the elections, held a meeting Sunday.

"The next parliament has no control over the government. So for parliament members who make promises to the people, what is the mechanism by which they will keep their promises?" party chief Abdellatif Meki said to the Associated Press news agency.

Some Tunisians initially welcomed Saied's grabbing of powers in 2021, after previous governments were unable to revive the economy or improve public services.

But his popularity has declined in recent years as Tunisians struggle with an economic crisis. Unemployment and shortage of staples are among the biggest issues facing the citizens.

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