On Sunday, Tunisians went to the polling stations to cast their votes in the local council elections, in which 6,177 candidates are competing for 2,804 local council seats in 2,129 electoral districts.
Tunisian President Kais Saied said today, after the statement, that his country “is in a race against time to shorten history, and we will work to focus all institutions and goals (..).”
He added in a speech he delivered to journalists, saying, “The local councils will achieve integration between the institutions of government, and we will work to ensure that these institutions are effective and express the will of the Tunisian people, and we are on the right path.”
The head of the Supreme Elections Authority, Farouk Bouaskar, confirmed that all polling stations opened their doors at eight in the morning “without recording any problems,” and will continue until six in the evening, local time.
The spokesman indicated, during a first press conference held by the Election Commission, that “there is a normal conduct of the voting process in the morning period, accompanied by an encouraging voter turnout.”
Bouaskar explained that for the first time in the history of the elections, “a lottery will be held today, starting at nine in the morning, for candidates for seats reserved for people with disabilities in 27 large halls, which are the halls for collecting results.”
The spokesman added that the final number of candidates through the lottery was 1,028 candidates, competing for 279 seats in the local councils.
Local council elections are one of the most important agendas approved by Saied after the referendum on a new constitution for the country on July 25, 2022 and the holding of legislative elections on December 17 of the same year.
Political positions in Tunisia vary regarding the extent to which this electoral stage is an early test of the popularity of President Kais Saied, as it falls within his new project.
“Localities are not a measure”
In this context, the leader of the “People’s Movement” (supporting the president), Osama Oueidat, said that the local council elections are not a measure of the popularity of Tunisian President Kais Saied.
The spokesman pointed out, in a statement to Aswat Magharebia, that “presidential elections have a different logic and perception,” and added that “everyone knows that historically presidential elections record a much higher turnout than these elections.”
The spokesman stated that the “People’s Movement” had called in a previous statement for the necessity of not holding local council elections on their current date for several considerations, “most notably that the interests of Tunisians are focused on their daily concerns.” He stressed that “as long as the Tunisian has not seen any progress in his daily life, his reluctance from the matter “The year will be great.”
Oueidat pointed out that among the reasons that may lead to weak turnout in local council elections is “the geographic division of mayors.”
The same spokesman explained this matter by saying that “citizens campaigned for an election for one of the candidates in a certain deanship. During the campaign, the deanships were revived, and it became clear that they were forced to vote in another deanship for another candidate.”
“An unpopular president”
For his part, the Secretary-General of the Democratic Current Party (opposition party), Nabil Hajji, stressed that the Tunisian president “is not popular, contrary to what is being marketed.”
The spokesman said, in a statement to Aswat Magharebia, “The president and his project do not enjoy the trust of the people. What is happening is that Tunisians are only wary of the experience before July 25, 2021, and are afraid of not finding an alternative.”
He continued, saying: “All the steps taken by the president, including establishing a new constitution, legislative elections, and electronic consultations, were a failure and reflected the weakness of his popularity among Tunisian circles.”
Hajji pointed out that local council elections are considered a “non-event,” and stressed that “most Tunisians do not know that there is an electoral event in the country, and they are preoccupied with the high cost of living and the deterioration of their social conditions.”
On the other hand, political analyst, Ibrahim Al-Waslati, emphasized that every electoral entitlement is a way to test the popularity of the existing authority.
Speaking to Aswat Magharebia, the spokesman indicated that “the local council elections will lead to indirect elections for membership in the Council of Regions and Regions, which is a second parliamentary chamber and is one of the institutions approved by the Constitution of July 25, 2022, of its owner, Kais Saied.”
The spokesman continued: “In view of the previous electoral elections, whether the referendum on the July 25 constitution, in which the voter participation rate was only approximately 30 percent out of a total of more than 9 million voters, or the legislative elections in their first and second phases, in which the turnout rate was around 11 percent, the significance of this is It is the reluctance of Tunisians.”
Weslati warned that “Tunisians’ reluctance to participate in electoral elections is a position in itself, and they have expressed it with an almost total boycott.”
The same spokesman concluded by saying, “The electoral election that Tunisia is witnessing today will either confirm the popular boycott or will provide a positive signal that can be read on the basis of support for the Tunisian president and his high popularity.”