The numbers have the advantage that we can make them say what we want. Even before the announcement of the official results or the assessments from polling institutions, Kaïs Saïed’s aficionados began to celebrate the victory. The estimates published at 22.00 gives the “yes” winner of 92.3%. Kaïs Saïed can therefore breathe a sigh of relief, his constitution has been destroyed. He will not even be embarrassed by the Soviet score worthy of the last century. Politically, he will “sell” this “yes” and he will shout from the rooftops that people support his project.
It would be a quick start, because the result hides something else.
The “yes” vote may well prevail, but the fact is that the participation rate of 25% is very low. It is even the lowest since the revolution. There have never been so many abstentions at an election meeting.
Would Tunisians have detached themselves so much from politics? The answer is negative, because some of these abstainers refused to go to the polls on July 25 in order not to support Kaïs Saïed’s despotic project. This is the case with the Islamists of Ennahdha and Al Karama, the Destourians of the PDL and some of the lay people, including those of Qalb Tounes and Attayar. For them, the process initiated by Kaïs Saïed is fraudulent, and it is out of the question to support it even by going there to vote “no”.
What is the proportion of abstainers in the total number of registered voters? No one has responded, but we cannot say that their numbers are insignificant. These five parties represent about 1.5 million voters if we refer to their figures for 2019. If they had participated in the referendum, it is not certain that “yes” would have won.
Far from projectionist hypotheses, let’s stay in pure arithmetic.
There are almost nine million subscribers. The number of “yes” is close to two million. The picture is clear, so there are seven million people who have said no, who have refused to participate in what they consider a charade, or who are completely disengaged from politics.
In any case, Kaïs Saïed failed to mobilize Tunisians for his referendum. The number of two million voters and two million “yes” is a real desavoering for him, when we remember that he was elected with 2.7 million votes.
However, it is good to emphasize that the President of the Republic has done everything to make his referendum succeed and especially “yes”. Since December, when he announced the referendum and the new constitution, he has not stopped using state resources for his business, not hesitating to wet his shirt to convince.
The merry-go-round in favor of yes has continued for all these past months and has gained dizzying speed during the campaign, until Monday 25 July 2022.
In complete election silence, this morning he committed electoral fraud, which was immediately condemned by several politicians and by Haica. His wife, the magistrate Ichraf Chebil, played on the subliminal, draped herself in a beautiful green dress, the same color as “yes” in the election campaign.
We can say that it is by using all these legal and illegal means that “yes” won, but we can also say that despite all these legal and illegal means, Kaïs Saïed only managed to collect 1.8 million votes out of the potential nine million. In democratic countries, when the participation rate in a referendum does not reach 50%, the referendum is not validated. On 12 June a referendum was held in Italy. He achieved only 20.5% turnout among registered voters, i.e. more than ten million citizens. However, this referendum was invalidated.
Kaïs Saïed can (and he certainly will) be proud of his 92% and shout from the rooftops that he has won the approval of the people, he will not be able to deny for long the seven million Tunisians who have turned their backs. He will be able to deceive some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but he will not be able to deceive all of the people all of the time.
Faced with the figures (who also have the advantage of being stubborn), Kaïs Saïed needs much more than his catchphrases and the eternal “the people want”.
The people are not the two million people who said yes, the people are the nine million registered.
Of these nine million, seven million boycotted or clearly said “no”. Kais Saied has a moral and political obligation to take them into account in his future strategy.
He won’t, that’s for sure. He’s going to play ostrich and he’s going to get drunk with 92%, that’s another proof. But one day the seven million will wake up to remind him that the people are not on his side and that they are the majority in this country. It is an arithmetic question and it obeys the law of numbers.
Raouf Ben Hedi