Amid a non-stop incitement organized by the Brotherhood against the course of political reforms initiated by President Kais Saied, Tunisia entered, today, Friday, Tunisia enters the stage of electoral silence amid a state of apathy and indifference in the street, which does not reflect the atmosphere of the parliamentary elections, with a division between those who have lost their enthusiasm for voting and those who see it as a step to reform the deteriorating conditions.
The atmosphere in the capital, Tunis, a day before the legislative elections, does not suggest that the country is preparing to vote, tomorrow, Saturday, for a new parliament. What is happening in terms of clamor or movement among people is generally related to the judiciary of their affairs and not to the general political debate.
The country entered the stage of electoral silence today, Friday, inside, amid a state of apathy and coldness throughout the electoral campaign, while the voting process abroad began yesterday, Thursday, to continue until tomorrow, Saturday, the 17th of this month.
During the electoral campaign that began on November 25, voters were not able to accurately identify the programs of the 1,058 individual candidates, including 122 women, due to their poor advertising and communication campaigns.
Life goes on as usual near Bab Bahr, where Kahla searches for a currency exchange before traveling in search of livelihood outside Tunisia (Al-Jazeera)
Near Bab Bahr, one of the historical gates separating the ancient city from the heart of the capital, the movement of pedestrians escalates, and the voices of drivers transporting travelers from Tunisia to Algerian cities intertwine with the voices of hard currency exchange dealers on the black market.
There, not far from the security men, “Kahla” is lurking, a young man who has been pushed by unemployment to take risks to earn a living, travelers looking for a currency exchange.
Kahla repeats cautiously, “Exchange, exchange,” while his eyes stare at passers-by, searching for a customer.
After the revolution in 2011, this young man fled from the governorate of Sidi Bouzid to the capital in search of work, but what he gained was the exchange of currency in secret.
He told Al-Jazeera Net that the young men resorted to taking risks in search of livelihood because of their despair of the harsh conditions.
Kahla shares the rent of a cramped apartment in the middle of the ancient city with some of his simple companions, and spares no money after sending help to his family. For him, emigrating secretly towards Europe has become his remaining hope for improving his living situation.
Although he supports President Kais Saied’s slogans in combating corruption and correcting the path of the revolution, he will not participate in his electoral path.
He says that the deterioration of the general situation does not encourage participation in the elections, and that the new parliament will not fix the deteriorating situation.
This young man blames the Tunisian president for his focus on the legislative and legal track by changing the constitution and the election law, while “he did not succeed in applying the slogans of fighting corruption and supporting vulnerable groups on the ground as promised.”
After the exceptional measures taken by Qais Saeed on July 25, 2021, and with which he ruled the country with his fist, Kahla hoped that social justice would replace corruption, but he saw nothing but the proliferation of unemployment, poverty, high prices, and monopoly, as he says.
Hassan Al-Ghalqawi is another young man who was displaced years ago from Kasserine Governorate in search of a place to work in the capital, but his effort was wasted in selling cheap Chinese goods on the side of the road, as hit-and-run with the policemen became his daily bread.
Al-Ghalqawi does not pin any hopes on the legislative elections due to his distress and frustration with the harshness of life in order to earn his living by the sweat of his brow and the lack of any interest from the authority in the concerns of youth, and assures Al-Jazeera Net that he will not participate in this electoral station.
Like other young people who are indignant at the deterioration of the situation, Al-Ghallawi does not hide his pessimistic view of the elections to be organized on December 17, coinciding with the anniversary of the outbreak of the revolution, whose demands for work and dignity have evaporated.
This young man blames the political parties that ruled after the revolution and the opposition to it, and the current president, for the worsening situation in the country, stressing that people’s reluctance to vote is due to their lack of confidence in the entire political class.
The sixty-year-old street vendor, Farhat al-Mahdhi, does not disagree with him in the fact that the political parties are responsible for the suffocating crisis in the country, accusing them of benefiting from power and corruption and sharing positions without caring for the concerns of citizens.
But he tells Al-Jazeera Net that President Kais Saeed was the man of the stage by taking exceptional measures about a year and a half ago by dismissing the previous government, dissolving parliament and excluding parties, “in an effort to correct the course of the revolution and tip the people’s hand.”
Despite his distress and the difficulty of earning his living from selling local bread in the center of the capital, he confirms his participation in the elections, which he believes will result in the rise of a parliament with a system of voting on individuals that serves the people away from the narrow interests of the parties.
He believes that the attempt to pin the deteriorating conditions, the high cost of living, and the shortage of basic materials in the country on President Kais Saied aims to destabilize his rule and undermine his path, stressing that a wide segment of Tunisians trust the president’s credibility and intention.
Yesterday, Thursday, the voting process began in the first legislative elections in Tunisia, which are held by the system of voting for individuals abroad, and will continue until tomorrow, Saturday.
Of the 10 constituencies abroad, 7 did not register any candidacies.
Observers expect that the participation rate in the legislative elections tomorrow, Saturday, will record a noticeable decline compared to the previous elections, due to the announcement of the most prominent parties boycotting them due to what they consider a coup against power by Qais Saeed.
Among the parties boycotting the elections is the Ennahda Movement, which has ruled the country in coalitions since 2011, and its ideological opponent is the Free Constitution, a descendant of the former regime, and centrist parties such as the Democratic Current and left-wing parties such as the Labor Party.
The next parliament will consist of 161 seats, and its powers will decline compared to previous parliaments, after President Qais Saeed changed the form of government in his new constitution from parliamentary to presidential, which gives the president broader influence.
The opposition boycotting the elections believes that the next parliament will generate a monstrosity and will be weak from dispersed individuals without popular weight that do not unite them in any program, while the president’s supporters say that the parliament will be organized into blocs united by political visions.