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Seven million Tunisians have in their hands this Sunday the future of the next five years. They choose the composition of the new Parliament , the second that has been voted freely since the fall of dictator Ben Ali. Legislative elections are held eclipsed by the presidential elections that, three weeks ago, punished traditional parties to raise two populist and anti-system figures. This is Law Professor Kais Saied and media mogul Nabil Karui (jailed for money laundering and fraud), which will be measured in the second round on October 13.
The proximity of both electoral processes has created some "electoral fatigue" , caused by the premature death of President Beji Caid Essebsi , on July 25, which forced the presidential elections scheduled for November to be advanced.
After a shy campaign under the presidential shadow, the parties have thrown the house out the window this week to encourage the disenchanted voter. Live music, large screens projecting promotional videos, great phrases, street-level candidates ... Political groups have displayed all their charms, but until Tuesday - when the Independent Electoral Instance offers the final results - they will not be able to know if their Arts have taken effect.
They play it to qualify for a seat, of the 217 that make up the Parliament, a total of 15,737 candidates, integrated in 1,572 electoral lists . This makes the probability of being chosen 1.4%. In these elections, the rise of independent candidates is observed, a trend that was already seen in the municipal elections of May 2018, where those not assigned to any party obtained a third of the positions.
This time, the independents are more numerous than the candidates belonging to a formation, contrary to what happened in the 2014 legislatures. A total of 722 lists are independent, 163 are coalition and the parties make 687 lists . A panorama that breaks with the trend that since 2014 the main parties in power exerted, at that time In Nahda (Islamoconservative) and Nidaa Tunes (an amalgam of center-left, center-right and pro-Benalist tendencies agglutinated around the deceased Beji Caid Essebsi).
It is expected that the Tunisian electorate will follow this Sunday the trend that already marked in the presidential elections last September 15. "People have lost interest in these elections after the shock of the presidential results. Many parties are still trying to overcome it," says Fadwa al Ouni , an electoral process specialist at IWatch, an NGO focused on transparency.
"We are preparing for a scenario of low participation. They are important elections but in the psychology of the people the presidential ones are more relevant, although Tunisia is no longer a presidential regime," he continues. "In these legislatures, the upward trend of distrust towards the political class and the parties continues," he says, analyzing the increase in independent lists. "The voter flees from the parties and thinks that independents have more integrity," he describes.
But Al Ouni warns that not everything is that innocent, since "there are independents who are actually related to parties . " Although accurate: "We have no information on which list has a game behind, but it will be known." The Tunisian press has named them "Trojan horses" in the service of certain parties and coalitions.
All these elements make experts expect a political landscape fragmented into small blocks, as parliamentary islets divided between Islamist, revolutionary, populist, errecedist (supporters of the old regime), centrist and independent. The outgoing Parliament is made up of seven political blocs, with a majority of deputies from the Islamist trend party In Nahda (68 deputies), after the disbanded Nidaa Tunes (the group that obtained the best result in the 2014 elections, with 86 seats) .
New groups will emerge, such as the party created in June by the presidential candidate, populist Nabil Karui, Qalb Tunes (In the Heart of Tunisia), to which the polls predict a good result. Or the formation of former Prime Minister Yusef Chahed, the centrist Tahya Tunes (Viva Tunisia), a direct rival of Qalb Tunes. Much is played in these elections In Nahda, in the pillory after not entering the second round of the presidential elections and for the first time presenting its leader, Rachid Ghanuchi, as head of the list.
"People don't know who to choose, because they haven't seen anything good," says Chadly, who doesn't want to give his last name, at the closing meeting of the Democratic and Social Union, a new party led by Basma Al Jalfauia, Chokri Belaid's widow, trade unionist killed in 2013. "There will be punishment for those who sent in the previous legislature," he says. Al Jalfauia competes for the same constituency as Ghanuchi.
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