News ID: 110259
Publish Date : 17 December 2022 - 21:53

Tunisians Vote in Parliamentary Election Boycotted by Opposition

TUNIS (Reuters) – Polls opened on Saturday in a Tunisian parliamentary election that is expected to tighten President Kais Saied’s grip on power. The Ennahda party and other opposition bodies have called for voters to reject the ballot.
Taking place 12 years to the day after vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in an act of protest that sparked the Arab Spring, the vote was boycotted by opposition parties.
People voted to choose members of a parliament whose powers have been largely undermined by a new constitution, which was approved in a July referendum and backed by Saied in an effort to shift Tunisia back towards a presidential system.
Saied, a former law lecturer who was a political independent when elected president in 2019, suspended the previous parliament last year, surrounding the legislature with tanks and assuming near-total authority.
The legislative vote appears to have stirred little interest among a population jaded by political dysfunction and still struggling with economic hardship.
With the main parties absent, a total of 1,058 candidates – only 120 of them women – ran for 161 seats.
For 10 of those – seven in Tunisia and three decided by expatriate voters – there was just one candidate. Another seven of the seats decided by expatriate voters had no candidates running at all.
The election was taking place against the backdrop of an economic crisis that is fueling poverty, leading many to attempt the perilous journey to Europe aboard smugglers’ boats that often fail to make the crossing safely.
Saied’s opponents, including the Ennahda party, accuse him of a coup and say his actions have undermined the democracy secured through a 2011 revolution that ousted former leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and triggered the Arab spring.