© Reuters. A voter casts his poll at a polling station throughout the second spherical of the parliamentary election in Tunis, Tunisia January 29, 2023. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
By Tarek Amara
TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia opened polls on Sunday for run-offs in a parliamentary election that drew solely 11% turnout within the first spherical final month, a outcome that critics of the president stated undermined his claims of public help for sweeping political change.
With political events boycotting the vote, most candidates are independents and a spotlight is prone to concentrate on whether or not there can be increased participation than there was in December.
“I am not taken with elections that don’t concern me,” stated Nejib Sahli, 40, passing an empty polling station within the Hay Ettahrir district of Tunis shortly earlier than voting was as a consequence of start.
Polls are open from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. (0700 GMT-1700 GMT).
President Kais Saied has decreed the brand new, principally powerless, parliament as a part of a reconfigured presidential system that he launched after shutting down the earlier parliament in 2021 and assuming broad management over the state.
Saied’s critics accuse him of searching for to dismantle the democratic system enacted after Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, which sparked the Arab Spring, and so they ridiculed December’s ultra-low turnout as proof that his adjustments lack fashionable help.
The president says his actions have been authorized and essential to save lots of Tunisia from years of financial stagnation and political disaster, and has accused his critics of treason, urging motion in opposition to them.
A worsening financial disaster, that has brought about shortages of some meals and medicines and led the federal government to hunt a world bailout, has added to widespread disillusionment with politics.
On Friday Moody’s (NYSE:) credit score scores company downgraded Tunisian debt saying the nation would probably default on sovereign loans.
Below the earlier system, the parliament took the lead in selecting governments that set state coverage and dealt with the day by day operating of the nation. The president was solely immediately answerable for international affairs and defence.
Saied’s new guidelines make the parliament subservient to the president, who now takes the lead in forming or dismissing governments. The principles additionally scale back the position of political events, with parliamentary candidates listed solely by identify irrespective of their celebration affiliation.
Since December’s vote, state tv has elevated its concentrate on Sunday’s runoff votes together with by debates between candidates. The opposition has stated that is a part of an effort by the state to spice up turnout.
Of the 161 electoral districts, runoffs can be held on Sunday within the 131 for which no candidate gained greater than half the votes in December. In a number of districts, just one candidate ran in any respect, and so they have every been elected to the brand new parliament.