Preliminary results take Tunisia to second round of elections

Saturday's polls turnout was 11.22%, the country's Independent High Authority for Elections said

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Tunisia is heading towards a second round of elections for the Parliament’s House of Representatives, as Saturday’s vote gave no conclusive result, the Independent High Authority for Elections said on Monday.

Only 11.22 per cent of Tunisia's more than nine million registered voters voted in Saturday’s elections, said Farouk Bouasker, president of the authority.

Preliminary data from the poll indicated that 133 of 161 constituencies will require a second round of elections, with only 23 candidates having confirmed seats in the new House.

Some of those won an outright majority while others faced no opposition.

Tunisia’s electoral body also said it decided to fully or partially cancel some candidates’ votes over electoral crimes that were considered to have affected the final results.

Opposition groups called for President Kais Saied and the electoral body to resign after the low turnout.

They had called for a boycott of the election, accusing Mr Saied of seeking to consolidate power after he suspended parliament in July last year then dissolved it in March.

Mr Saied has not made any public statements on the election. But the authority, members of which were selected by him, said last week's turnout was marred by the perception of previous “corrupt and manipulated” polls.

Mohamed Tlili Mnassri, member of the authority's board, said the difference between the turnout figures from Saturday and Monday is due to the lack of data from some ballot stations and constituencies in Mednine governorate, which had a special closure time of 8pm.

Final results would be announced on January 19. On January 20, the campaign for the second round of elections would start, meaning the polls will take place between the end of January and early February.

The second round will consist of 131 constituencies.

“The electoral law does not place a threshold for participation so the upcoming parliament is going to form regardless of that," Mr Mnassri said.

"As for our evaluation of the turnout final rate, we will have the time to evaluate the reasons behind such turnout after the finalisation of results."

Elections for the National Council of Regions and Districts, a second chamber of Parliament established under the new constitution, have not yet been scheduled.

Tunisia's economy continues to struggle in the post-2011 era, with a 9.8 per cent inflation rate and increasing unemployment.

Difficult living conditions, including shortages of essential items and high unemployment, have created a sense of increasing apathy towards politics among Tunisians.

Many blame the political elite that has ruled them for the past decade, including Mr Saied.

Updated: June 20, 2023, 6:51 AM