Will the blank wall syndrome we witnessed during the referendum campaign be repeated this year? Before July 25, 2022, the date of the referendum, Tunisians faced an election campaign without participants, as the spaces dedicated to election posters, prepared by the Independent Higher Authority for Elections (Isie), remained empty.
The President of the Republic, Kaïs Saïed, must publish his new electoral law before the date of September 17, so that Isie, whom he himself had named, can prepare for the next electoral event. He had previously approved this timetable as part of the roadmap for “course correction” to which he clung, and whose implementation he had begun through consultation and a referendum. The figures concerning the latter prove their failure, although Kaïs Saïd, considered popular, was elected to the presidency with almost 3 million votes.
As part of his policy of monopolizing opinion and power, the President of the Republic is preparing to publish a new text “historic” which will not be different in its general idea and in its content from “historical building”. The electoral law will be a text drawn up unilaterally in Carthage after formal consultation with his entourage. It will resume the same exclusionary spirit of the process that started on July 25 and will inaugurate the president’s personal political project: control of the bases.
Kaïs Saïed no longer represents this mysterious figure whose behavior is difficult to predict as he chose a recurring pattern over the last year. This made his predictable next choice obvious. The Parachute Electoral Act will deal with the method of voting for the members of the two chambers: the Assembly of People’s Representatives and the National Council of Regions and Districts. This should be done by individual voting in the smallest constituencies.
The main political players who had been part of the previous legislature, which had resulted in the freezing of the parliament and then its dissolution, announced a boycott of “illegitimate process” and confirmed not to take part in the December 17 election, as the opposite would mean a “normalization with violation of the law and the constitution, the coup against the elected institutions and the recognition of the legitimacy of the process initiated by the president”.
The Islamist movement Ennahdha has not yet indicated its position on the election through an official press release. Nevertheless, the Islamist party is a member of the National Salvation Front, and it must in theory follow the decisions made by the latter. The National Salvation Front has announced its refusal, and of all its components, including the Islamist movement – which had a parliamentary majority in the 2019 election with 52 seats at the start of the electoral period – to participate in the next election. Qalb Tounes and the Al Karama coalition, also part of the same front and main allies of the Ennahdha movement, are affected by this decision.
The “Citizens Against the Coup” collective, which had previously announced its transformation into a political body intending to participate in the elections, for its part announced the boycott of the legislative elections in December 2022, in line with the position of the National Salvation Front, which in today brings together most of the components of the opposition.
For her part, the chairman of the Free Destourian Party (PDL)Abir Moussi, announced that the party was not interested in the parliamentary elections and would not participate “Caliphate Shura Council”. She believes that drafting a tailor-made electoral law and giving Kaïs Saïed the opportunity to set the rules of the game a few weeks before the date of the election was “a crime against the state”.
While we wait for Attayar, Ettakatol and Al Jomhouri to hold internal meetings to decide on the issue, the general orientation is almost certain, according to our sources, of an announcement from the democratic parties about the refusal to participate in the next elections and the lack of recognition of the entire July 25 process, as they previously boycotted the consultation in which only 500,000 Tunisians participated. They had also boycotted the referendum, which had witnessed the boycott of 70% of Tunisians when almost three million citizens, out of a total of 9 million registered in the electoral register, participated in it.
In his turn, the General Secretary of the Tunisian Communist Party, Hamma Hammami, confirmed his party’s boycott of the upcoming legislative elections, which according to him will only be a “new episode of the series “The Coup” written by President Kaïs Saied”.
The parties that have chosen to boycott the next election dates share the rejection of the whole process and consider July 25 a full-fledged coup in which political pluralism and public debate have been abolished. They also agree on the scandal that the unilateral drafting of an electoral law represents. This law could contain elements that prevent many leaders of the same parties from participating in the elections due to the legal procedures they face.