Record low turnout in Tunisia’s parliamentary election, President urged to resign

Record low turnout in Tunisia’s parliamentary election, President urged to resign

Saturday’s parliamentary election in Tunisia was marked by a record low turnout as less than 9 percent of registered voters headed to the polls to fill 161 seats of the Parliament. Main opposition parties had called for a boycott of the polls as they say the vote is part of President Kais Saied’s efforts to consolidate his power.

The country’s electoral authority said that the provisional turnout was 8.8 percent at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday when the poll stations were closed.

Opposition groups which boycotted the election described it as part of a “coup” against democracy.

The main opposition alliance called on the president to bring all political forces together for consultations.

“It (electoral commission, Ed.) says the turnout is 8.8%. We say it is an earthquake of 8.8 on the Richter scale. We ask those who run (the country) illegally and without any legitimacy to leave”, demanded National Salvation Front leader, Ahmed Nejib Chebbi.

The election took place almost a year and a half after Saied deployed military vehicles to suspend parliament, following months of political deadlock.

In July, the President used a referendum to push through a new constitution virtually stripping parliament of any real power, making it subordinate to the presidency with little sway over government, and giving the president power to appoint a prime minister.

Despite the low turnout, the lowest in any poll since the revolution in 2011, the president of the electoral authority described the process as clean in the absence of political financing and vote buying. Meanwhile, the opposition parties call the voting a passage leading to a one-man rule, reversing the country’s democracy, and voices have risen urging President Saied to resign after this lowest turnout ever.

Preliminary results are expected Monday.

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