TUNIS: Outsider candidates challenged Tunisia’s political elite on Sunday as voters returned to the polls weeks after a presidential election that reshaped the country’s political landscape.
The ink-stained fingers once proudly displayed after the 2011 revolution were briskly wiped clean as Tunisians fed up with the status quo cast ballots for lawmakers for the third time since the uprising.
“I came to vote out of duty, nothing more,” said Abdeljlil Frihi, in his 70s, scrubbing his finger and railing against a political class that “sank” the country.
The legislative vote comes after traditional political parties were eclipsed in favour of independent candidates during the first round of presidential polls last month in a trend that looked likely to continue.
“We feel that there is a wind of change in this country,” said a voter in Tunis who gave his name as Issa.
The sidelining of the ruling political class in the first presidential round on September 15 was rooted in frustration over a stagnant economy, high unemployment, failing public services and rising prices.
Sixty-year-old Mohamed Daadaa said he had “no hope for a positive change” in Tunisia. “I don’t trust anyone or any political party. Life just gets worse in this country,” he said.
More than 15,000 candidates on 1,500 lists are contesting 217 seats in a parliament dominated by Ennahdha in alliance with centrist party Nidaa Tounes, which has been decimated by infighting.
Turnout was low on Sunday morning. Mohamed Gafsi, who heads a polling station in Rue de Russie in the capital, said most of those voting “are over the age of 45 with no young people and weak female participation” at this stage. — AFP