An 88-year-old veteran of Tunisia’s political establishment won the country’s presidency, according to official results issued Monday, capping a four-year-long democratic transition. Beji Caid Essebsi campaigned on restoring the “prestige of the state” and a return to stability from the years of turmoil that followed this North African country’s 2011 overthrow of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali that kicked off the regional pro-democracy uprisings of the Arab Spring. It is a measure of the country’s yearning for a return to stability after four hard years that a revolution of the youth calling for change and social justice ends up electing a symbol of the old regime.
Essebsi, who received 55.68 percent of the vote, once served as Ben Ali’s speaker of parliament and before that was both foreign and interior minister for his predecessor, Habib Bourguiba.
His rival, outgoing interim president Moncef Marzouki, who made his name defending human rights against Ben Ali, received 44.32 percent of the vote. Exit polls had predicted similar results soon after polls closed Sunday night.