Semafor LogoJenna Moon

Only 8.8% of Tunisians voted in recent elections. Here’s why

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Title iconThe Numbers
  • 8.8% turnout in Saturday's election
  • 12 opposition parties boycotted
  • 70% of voters were 45 or older
  • 68% of voters were male
  • 41.7% turnout in 2019 elections
A man votes at a polling station during parliamentary election in Tunis, Tunisia December 17, 2022.
REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/File Photo
Title iconKnow More

Tunisia's “Salvation Front” opposition coalition called for President Kais Saied to step down after a record-low voter turnout of just 8.8% in the general election on Saturday.

Twelve of Tunisia’s opposition parties had boycotted the election, bringing down voter numbers in a country with a nine-million-strong electorate.

“What happened today is an earthquake,” the Front leader Nejib Chebbi said Saturday, reported Reuters. “From this moment we consider Saied an illegitimate president and demand he resign after this fiasco.”

The final results have yet to be reported.

Critics have accused Saied of undoing the democratic progress that followed the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, when Tunisians overthrew the dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. An election that year saw 92% voter turnout.

Title iconNotable

Middle East politics professor Monica Marks told the Middle East Eye Tunisians are disengaged with the electoral process.

“Most people I asked about the elections have responded with 'what election?’” she said. “Either because they genuinely don't know there is an election or they know perfectly well there is an election, but they view it as a sham. They are coping with sarcasm. A lot of Tunisians are disengaged.”