President of the Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE) Farouk Bouasker at a press briefing on December 17. (Photo: TAP)
Only 8.8% of all eligible voters turned up to cast their votes in the first legislative elections held under the new constitution and new electoral law in Tunisia on Saturday, December 17, according to Tunisia’s Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE).
ISIE published the figure of just 8.8% voter turnout after the closing of voting on Saturday. It said that a total of just over 800,000 voters had cast their votes in the election, out of over 9.3 million registered voters.
There were over 1,000 candidates running for 161 seats in the parliament. According to the results declared so far, candidates were able to secure clear victories in only 21 electoral districts. There are over 133 constituencies that will require runoff elections, to be held later, before a clear winner can be announced. In some constituencies, there were no candidates at all.
The low voter turnout and lack of candidates is attributed to a near unanimous call for the boycott of the elections by Tunisia’s major political parties. Most political parties have opposed President Kais Saied’s dissolution of the previous parliament and his introduction of a new constitution as well as a new set of electoral laws. Their calls to boycott the referendum for the new constitution had also resulted in a low voter turnout, with only around 30% of the electorate voting in the referendum in July.
Hailing the people’s active adherence to the call for boycott, the Tunisian Workers Party issued a statement claiming that the low voter turnout “reveals the electoral farce.” It asserted that the mass boycott of the elections erased any claims to legitimacy that Saied’s coup regime might have had, and demanded his resignation.
The main opposition party, the Islamist Ennahda and other parties also issued calls for Saied’s resignation, claiming that he had no legitimacy. They also called for fresh protests in the coming days.