UPDATES WITH DETAILS
By Mehmet Akif Turan, Alaa Hamoudi, and Yousra Ounas
TUNIS, Tunisia (AA) – Tunisian voters headed to polling stations on Sunday for the second round of parliamentary elections in a country embroiled in a deepening political crisis.
Polls opened at 8 a.m. local time (0700GMT) and are set to close at 6 p.m. (1700GMT).
More than 10,000 ballot boxes have been placed at 4,222 election centers across the country, according to government figures.
A total of 262 candidates, including 34 women, are in the running for 131 seats.
Voter turnout in the first three hours of voting reached 4.71 percent, Farouk Bouasker, head of the election commission, told a press conference in the capital Tunis.
“This percentage is positive and better than the voter turnout recorded in the first round,” he added.
“No violations have been reported during voting,” Bouasker added.
In December’s first round of voting, 23 candidates were elected to the 161-member parliament.
Special elections will be held later for seven constituencies with no candidates.
The early polls are the latest step in a series of exceptional measures taken by President Kais Saied, which started in July 2021 with ousting the government, dissolving parliament, and drafting a new constitution.
With around 9.2 million eligible voters, the first round saw a meager turnout of 11.22%, fueling more calls from the opposition for Saied to step down.
Under the new two-round electoral system Saied introduced last year, candidates need to win more than 50% of votes to be elected in the first phase.
Only 13 people cleared that threshold in December, while the other 10 won because they ran unopposed.
The polls were boycotted by several major political parties, including the Ennahda movement, Heart of Tunisia Party, and Movement Party.
* Ikram Imane Kouachi contributed to this report