Tunisian Referendum Set to Hand President Near-Total Power

Tunisian President Kais Saied

Tunisia is facing an end to its tentative efforts at democratic rule, with barely-attended polls expected to approve unlimited powers for the country’s president.

President Kais Saied is expected to impose a new constitution in light of the result, granting him further power over the country he has ruled by decree since suspending parliament over one year ago.

Tunisia’s electoral commission estimated turnout to be as low as 27.5%. No minimum turnout level was set for the result of the referendum to be binding.

An exit poll was published by Sigma Conseil shortly after voting ended, indicating 92.3% had voted in favor of Saied’s proposed reforms. International observers are yet to comment on the expected result and the voting processes.

The referendum generated little interest across Tunisia, with the nation having seemingly given up on the revolution that started over a decade ago and resigned to autocratic rule.

The first country to topple existing rulers during events of the early 2010s that became known as the “Arab spring”, Tunisia inspired similar revolutions in Egypt, Bahrain and Syria. All of these revolutions have been successfully squashed though, with power now back in the hands of a select few.

Saied has received backing from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two nations that have played a leading role in crushing other revolutions in the region.