Tunisian youth split on presidency vote

The runoff will see Marzouki, who came in second in last month's first-round vote, face off against Essebsi, a former Ben Ali regime official who came in at first place with 39.4 percent of the vote.

Tunisian youth split on presidency vote

World Bulletin/News Desk

Two days before Tunisians flock to the polls to select the country's next president, young people appear divided between those who plan to boycott the runoff and those who feel it is their responsibility to exercise their right to choose their leader, according to various testimonies.

Despite being aware of the significance of their votes to the electoral process, most young people that spoke to The Anadolu Agency appear frustrated and disappointed by their options in the runoff vote, which pits current interim President Moncef Marzouki against Beji Caid Essebsi of the Nidaa Tounes party.

"I've never elected anyone in my life, and I won't participate in the upcoming elections either," Saber, a 24-year-old hairdresser who only gave his first name, told AA.

"After a lot of thinking, I've come to the conclusion that there is no point in participating in the polls, as politicians are just using us to achieve their personal goals. We don't trust them; that's why many of us [young people] decided not to vote," Saber said.

Mohamed, 22, who was sitting not far away from Saber, echoed this sentiment, telling AA that he had never voted before and sees no reason to start now.

"Our country is in dire straits; the youth are exhausted… there is no future for us. Rampant unemployment is destroying our dreams," Mohamed said, adding that he had "never been able to stay employed for more than a week."

Faisal, also in his 20s, told AA that the impending vote didn't concern him and that he would rather "work and make 15 dinars [about $8] than waste time choosing a candidate that won't make a difference" to his future.

Meanwhile, 31-year-old Nidal shrugged his shoulders in apathy, saying that Tunisian youth were boycotting the polls "because they haven't found a trustworthy candidate or a good government."

"I wanted to participate in the parliamentary elections [at the end of October], but none of the parties and candidates succeeded in convincing me," Nidal said.

He added: "It's even worse with the presidential elections. My life is fully removed from the country's political reality. Politicians are useless. While they play, we're stuck in the gutter."

Amena, a 20-year-old student, said the reason why many young Tunisians didn't trust politicians "has to do with the legacy of the old regime [of ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ali], which makes them believe the entire process is a farce; that's why they don't care about it."

"But they're wrong about this because we all have to vote to rebuild our country," Amena said, adding that she had yet to decide which candidate to vote for.

Many youths, however, insist on exercising their right to choose the country's next president.

Hamza, a 28-year-old waiter at a Tunis café, seemed confident about his choice: "I will vote for Dr. Moncef Marzouki because he is a revolutionary," adding that he would travel some 350km to his hometown just to cast his vote.

Meanwhile, Nagla, 26, said she would cast a blank ballot, going on to urge all young people "to vote for Marzouki, Essebsi or void their ballot, which is also an option."

Heba, 27, said that while she would rather not vote, she was nevertheless unwilling "to once again let the country fall prey to instability."

"We have to vote for the candidate most capable of ruling," she said, adding that she would "probably" cast her ballot for Essebsi.

Youth participation in the first round of the presidential election was meager, especially among those under 30 years of age, fewer than 20 percent of whom cast ballots, according to official statistics.

Some observers saw the low turnout as a reflection of disappointment and frustration on the part of Tunisian youth, whose hopes have failed to materialize in the four years since Ben Ali's ouster.

On Tuesday, five NGOs urged the country's youth to participate in Sunday's runoff vote.

Electoral campaigning ahead of the runoff kicked off on Tuesday – both in Tunisia and abroad – and will end on Saturday, according to regulations set by Tunisia's electoral commission.

The runoff will see Marzouki, who came in second in last month's first-round vote, face off against Essebsi, a former Ben Ali regime official who came in at first place with 39.4 percent of the vote.

The runoff vote will be held on Sunday, December 21, in Tunisia and on December 19, 20 and 21 overseas.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Aralık 2014, 23:48

Muhammed Öylek