In Tunisia, in the referendum on a new constitution boycotted by the opposition, a broad majority appears to be in favor of the controversial project. According to post-election polls by the opinion research institute Sigma Conseil, between 92 and 93 percent of the participants voted in favor of the draft constitution, which is intended to give President Kais Saïed significantly more power. Official results are not expected until Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.
The electoral authority Isie announced that the turnout was 27.54 percent. According to this, 2.46 million of the 9.3 million registered voters cast their vote. That’s more than observers had expected given the opposition’s calls for a boycott. Isie boss Farouk Bouasker said voters had lived up to their historic responsibility and turned out in “very respectable numbers” at the polling stations.
Opposition warns of an authoritarian system
The opposition and non-governmental organizations fear the North African country will return to an authoritarian system. Both the Islamist Ennahda party and the secular PDL party, chaired by Abir Moussi, called for a boycott of the elections and called the referendum an “illegal process” without consultation.
According to the planned constitution, the president can in future appoint and dismiss the head of government and the ministers without parliamentary participation. He could introduce legislative texts in Parliament that would take precedence over other drafts. Parliament’s position would be significantly weakened. The new constitution does not provide for the removal of the President.
The lawyer Sadok Belaïd, whom President Saïed had entrusted with drafting the constitution, distanced himself from the final version and declared that it could “open the way to a dictatorial regime”.
Saïed was elected at the end of 2019. A year ago, he ousted the government and parliament, citing emergency laws. On Monday he called on his compatriots to vote to create a “new republic” based “on genuine freedom, justice and national dignity”.