This Monday, Tunisians are voting for a new Constitution, proposed by their president Kaïs Saïed. A referendum that should not fascinate the crowds…
This Monday, July 25, 2022 is a rather special day for Tunisians. It's been a year since Kaïs Saïed, the Tunisian president, has granted himself full powers. For the occasion, this day has therefore become a holiday. And it will be an opportunity for voters to return to the polls, just over two years after the last legislative elections. This time it will be to decide for or against the new Constitution.
A vote that caused controversy: after having delivered a Constitution which contained “errors of form or arrangement”, Kaïs Saïed did not publish the final text until two weeks ago.
Nevertheless, the Constitution should be adopted. Already, the opposition is crying out for authoritarian drift, even if chapter 55 of the text, relating to rights and freedoms, ensures that "no restriction may be made to the rights and freedoms, guaranteed by this Constitution, only by virtue of a law and for a necessity required by a democratic system and in order to protect the rights of others, or for the needs of public security, national defense or public health”.
Especially since chapter 90, which relates to the candidacy for the presidency of the Republic, indicates that “the presidency of the Republic cannot be exercised for more than two successive or separate terms”.
Another chapter of the Constitution, concerning civil status, had also caused much discussion. It indicates that "Tunisia is part of the Islamic nation, and the State alone must work within the framework of a democratic system, to achieve the objectives of pure Islam in the defense of self, honor, money, religion and freedom.
Still, the text remains austere for many Tunisians, who are content to follow the debates on television or radio. They can thus understand, as part of civil society thinks, that President Kaïs Saïed is planning “an excessive concentration of power”.
It now remains to be seen what the rate of participation will be, ultimately the only issue of today's vote. Because the Islamist party Ennahdha called for a boycott, judging the "illegal process", while the UGTT, the main union in the country, did not give instructions to vote.
The yes campaign also resembles that of Kaïs Saïed during the 2019 presidential election: few posters, slogans or even meetings. Kaïs Saïed seems to be counting on his popularity which, if not as strong as when he started, remains good.