Tunisia: New Constitution Passes with Low Voter Turnout

    Photo: EPA [via BBC]

    The Facts

    • In a referendum on Mon., Tunisians overwhelmingly approved a new constitution proposed by Pres. Kais Saied. According to recent figures, it was approved by over 90% of voters, though turnout was only around 25%.

    • The new constitution, which strengthens Saied's executive control, replaces the 2014 constitution. Saied is given full executive control, full command of the army, and the ability to appoint a government without parliamentary approval.

    The Spin

    Establishment-critical narrative

    This is a tragic day for democracy in the Arab world. Saied's new constitution - which was approved with only a quarter of the Tunisian population's support - is an attempt to make himself Tunisia's new authoritarian strongman, reversing the free speech and democratic governance that were protected under Tunisia's post-Arab Spring government.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    Considering the severe economic and political crisis Tunisia has spiraled into since the so-called "Arab Spring," it's no wonder that Tunisians have decided to support the new constitution. This is just one more step to save the country from the grip of the Muslim Brotherhood and the political corruption and economic chaos that it would otherwise face. This election wasn't about a return to autocracy but about salvaging Tunisia.

    Establishment split



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