Tunisia is set to hold its second round of elections for the Parliament’s House of Representatives on Sunday, following inconclusive results in the first round last month. Voters in 133 constituencies will be choosing representatives in the new two-chamber parliamentary system established under the country’s new constitution. However, a date for elections to the second chamber, the National Council of Regions and Districts, has not yet been announced.
Since the dissolution of the previous parliament, Tunisian President Kais Saied has been ruling the country through executive decrees as part of what he calls a state of exceptional measures. In a statement released on its Facebook page, the Tunisian Presidency emphasized the need for all parties to adhere to the principle of complete neutrality in order for voters to freely express their will.
Many established parties in Tunisia have called for a boycott of the election, claiming that the political system established under the new constitution, which was passed in a referendum with only a 30% voter turnout, is undemocratic. However, final-round candidate Malik Kammoun, a 26-year-old political science researcher, supports President Saied’s vision for a political system that focuses on people rather than parties. Kammoun believes that Tunisia’s previous “hybrid” political system is what led the country into a political crisis and that a system that enshrines local decision-making is necessary.
The electoral law in Tunisia was changed in September through a decree issued by President Saied, with one major change being that voters now cast ballots for individual candidates instead of party lists in the upcoming elections. This system has faced criticism in recent months, with several political parties accusing the legislature of excluding them. With an ongoing economic crisis affecting citizens’ daily lives, some critics doubt that the election of a new parliament will bring the solutions the country needs.
Image Credit: Fethi Belaid/AFP