Farouk Bouasker, the president of Tunisia’s Independent High Authority for Elections announces the results of the constitutional referendum in Tunis, Tunisia, Tuesday, July 26, 2022. AP
In this referendum, Tunisians voted on the new draft constitution, with a turnout of 27.5% of registered voters. Among voters, 94.6% voted for the new constitution, while 5.4% rejected it.
The adoption of the new constitution has raised many questions about Tunisia’s political future and national action in the near future, especially since Tunisia has been in the grip of a deep crisis since the adoption of the measures exceptional.
The new text will transform the Tunisian regime from a parliamentary regime to a presidential regime, in which the Tunisian president enjoys extensive powers, in exchange for limiting and possibly weakening the powers of other authorities, notably legislative ones.
However, the most important amendment in addition to the above, in my opinion, is the article which states: “Tunisia is part of the Islamic Ummah. [nation] and the state alone must work to achieve the goals of pure Islam, preserving life, honor, wealth, religion and freedom. This amendment will mean putting an end to the political use of religion, reducing the influence of political Islam in Tunisia, in particular the Ennahda movement.
It is likely that the state of “political polarization” in Tunisia will continue for some time after the adoption and approval of the new constitution, given the opposition of many Tunisian political currents to the referendum and their refusal to recognize its results. This is notably the case of the Islamist Movement Ennahda, the National Salvation Front and the Dignity Coalition (Al Karama). This is without counting the civil parties who reject President Kais Saied’s project but who are not affiliated with the Ennahda Movement, in particular the Destourian Free Party, the Democratic-Republican Current, Ettakatol and the Workers, as well as the Tunisian General Union work. .
These political currents agree that the adoption of President Saied’s draft constitution means “one man” which does not include “participation”, threatening the democratic gains that Tunisia has obtained in the post-Revolution phase. of Jasmine. This tendency has already begun to confront Saied’s measures, whether by resorting to justice, or by inviting Tunisians to demonstrate and take to the streets to express their rejection of the president’s project, and by promoting “the illegality of the current system of government in Tunisia. .
Meanwhile, there is another front that supports President Saied, led by popular groups who prefer stability to various political calculations, in addition to parties like the People’s Movement and Union for Tunisia, Movement Forward of Tunisia and the Popular Movement. These parties see in the adoption of the constitution an opportunity to complete the construction of Tunisian institutions, to complete the “path of correction” and to cut all ties with the years of “corruption and terrorism”, in reference in the state era of the Ennahda Movement.
In adopting and pushing through Tunisia’s new draft constitution, the opposition front, led by the Ennahda movement, failed to obstruct the proposed constitutional referendum and mobilize the public to do so. This shows the decline in popularity of these trends and their inability to reach the Tunisian street, while proving the continued popularity of the Tunisian president with Tunisians, who prefer stability to political disputes. Therefore, we can say that voting “Yes” to the new constitution is tantamount to voting “No” to the return to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia. President Saied could use this result to put an end to the political presence of the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood by promulgating an electoral law which “provides for the dissolution of parties with religious references”.
However, this step has heightened the challenges facing President Saied and his government. Given his broad powers, he will be responsible to the Tunisians for managing the economic and social crises which are getting worse every day, and he cannot claim that other political tendencies are responsible for them. The president will be called upon in the near future to complete the reforms and put the country back on the right track with a participatory approach, because the multiplication of opposition tendencies is neither in the interest of the president, nor in the interest of Tunisia, because it will lead to greater instability at all levels.
*The author is a political scientist specializing in regional security issues