The first round of the presidential election will take place on Sunday, September 15 and a second-round is scheduled in the coming weeks if no candidate obtains an absolute majority.
The first round of Sunday’s elections is considered essential to ensure Tunisia’s young democracy in the economic turmoil.
With more than seven million Tunisians registered to vote in Sunday’s elections, the turnout could be slightly higher than in 2014, when the country held its first democratic presidential elections.
For the first time in the region, presidential candidates participated in a series of televised debates to compete for public votes. The result was the television of a scale rarely seen in the modern history of Tunisia, with 11 television channels in the country broadcasting the debate, alongside 20 radio stations.
But in the second free and fair vote, there seems to be little interest and even less conviction that their vote will make a difference – regardless of age or social status – a new feature of this year’s election campaign was a live television debate between candidates. But for many voters, this did not help them make their decision.
Economic issues played a key role in the elections in a context of growing disaffection among Tunisian public opinion, particularly among young people with an estimated unemployment rate of 35%.
The economy is growing at a sluggish pace of 1.2%, with budget cuts and a $2.9 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund that have eroded living standards and have not attracted enough foreign investment to stimulate growth.
The country is now facing a struggling currency, growing external debt and deep-rooted unemployment.
Despite a much-vaunted war against corruption led by the current authorities, a well-established elite is growing rich in much of the country, while many people are still living in poverty.
Sunday’s election will be the second time that Tunisia goes to the polls to vote for the presidency, and will be closely followed to test the only Arab spring 2011 success in the region.