Independent candidates in Tunisia’s first free municipal election gained more votes than major parties Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes, officials said on Tuesday citing preliminary results. Sunday’s election is seen as key to a democratic transition and a chance to establish decentralization and local governance. Tunisia is hailed as the Arab Spring’s only democratic success because protests toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 without triggering major violence. But enthusiasm for democratic change has turned to anger over low living standards amid an economy that is struggling. Some Tunisians have crossed by sea to Europe illegally in search of work while others have turned to militant Islam.
Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party claimed victory late on Sunday in the country’s first free municipal elections, a key step in a democratic transition marred by economic disappointment. After polling stations closed at 6 p.m., top Ennahda official Lotfi Zitoun told Reuters the party was more than 5 percent ahead of its secularist rival, Nidaa Tounes, citing vote counts observed by the party. Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes are also coalition partners in the national government. They were expected to dominate the long-delayed polls, which will see officials elected in 350 municipalities for the first time since a 2011 uprising ended decades of authoritarian rule.
Tunisia’s first free municipal elections got under way Sunday as voters expressed frustration at the slow pace of change since the 2011 revolution in the cradle of the Arab Spring. The election has been touted as another milestone on the road to democracy in the North African country, which has been praised for its transition from decades of dictatorship. But Tunisia has struggled with persistent political, security and economic problems as well as corruption since the revolution, and observers expected a low turnout for Sunday’s poll. … Tunisia is grappling with economic challenges including an inflation rate which stands at around eight percent and an unemployment rate of more than 15 percent. The country was hit by a wave of protest at the start of the year over a new austerity budget introduced by the government.
Tunisia is hoping to break through barriers with its first local election since its 2011 Arab Spring revolution — a vote that could produce the first female mayor of the capital, the first Jewish official with an Islamist party and new flock of mayors with greater powers. The North African country is trying to consolidate its young democracy with Sunday’s election, in which Tunisia’s 5.3 million voters will choose local leadership from 2,000 lists of candidates. The top vote-getters are expected to come from the Islamist Ennahdha party and the president’s moderate secular Nida Tunis party, which govern together in a coalition. But nearly half the candidate lists are from independent groups that are pledging to address local issues.
Police and soldiers went to the ballot box for the first time in Tunisia on Sunday, casting votes in municipal elections after the lifting of a longtime ban. Most Tunisians will vote on May 6 in the municipal polls — the first since the North African country’s 2011 revolution — but members of the security forces cast their ballots a week earlier. “This is a historic day. For the first time we are exercising a right of citizenship,” a police officer told AFP at a polling station in central Tunis, asking to remain anonymous.
Tunisia: In post-revolution Tunisia democracy endangered by low voter registration | Middle East Monitor
In Tunis, municipal elections are on the horizon. However, democracy is at risk. Registration to vote is very weak and there is a clear reluctance among the many Tunisian political parties to participate. The municipal and regional elections are the democratic exercise in post-revolution Tunisia since the last elections took place in 2010. And they are especially significant because these councils used to be appointed by the Head of State. … But according to Nabil Bafoun, a member of the Independent High Electoral Commission, the process suffers from the absence of political parties and a lack of seriousness regarding the involvement of civil society in the process of voter registration. In press statements, Bafoun has said that the number of registered voters in this election has so far reached 167,770 voters, including 30,252 updates for registrants who changed their residence addresses.
Tunisia’s parliament gathered on Saturday for a vote of confidence that could see Prime Minister Habib Essid unseated after just a year and a half in office. Essid’s government has been widely criticised for failing to tackle the country’s economic crisis, high unemployment and a series of jihadist attacks. “I’m quite aware that the vote will be against me,” Essid, 67, told parliament ahead of the planned vote. “I didn’t come to obtain the 109 votes (needed to remain in office). I came to expose things to the people and to members of parliament,” he said. Voting is expected to take place at around 2300 GMT following several hours of speeches by MPs and a response by Essid, said the president of the assembly, Mohamed Ennaceur.
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.
Tunisians vote in the second round of a presidential election on Sunday, capping off four years of a sometimes chaotic transition since their country sparked the Arab Spring. Incumbent Moncef Marzouki faces political veteran Beji Caid Essebsi in the vote – the first time Tunisians will be allowed to freely elect their president since independence from France in 1956. It was protests in Tunisia and the 2011 ouster of long-time ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali that set off the chain of revolts that saw several Arab dictators toppled by citizens demanding democratic reforms. From Egypt and Libya to Syria and Yemen, violent unrest followed. But Tunisia has largely avoided the bloodshed that has plagued other Arab Spring states, and its citizens are feeling hopeful ahead of the run-off vote.
Since the ouster of long-time dictator Zine El Abedine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia has been the bellwether for the revolutions that have rocked the Middle East. Three years into their revolution, Tunisians stand at a crossroads: a choice between “protecting” the revolution and sacrificing some revolutionary gains for the sake of stability. Last month’s presidential elections are, in the eyes of many hopeful Tunisians, the capstone to a tumultuous period of post-revolutionary instability. Over twenty candidates ran in the first round elections, but to many external observers and Tunisians it was a race between two candidates that embody the fierce debate occurring within the country. In one camp is the establishment candidate: Beji Caid Essebsi. A remnant of not only Ben Ali’s government but the government of his predecessor Habib Bourgiba, Essebsi has campaigned on providing Tunisians with a modicum of security after three years of uncertainty.
Tunisia: Parliament holds first session, as court rejects Marzouki’s election challenge | Middle East Eye
Tunisia’s newly-elected parliament held its first session on Tuesday in capital Tunis. Ali bin Salem, the assembly’s oldest parliamentarian, led the session after a brief opening statement by Mustapha Ben Jaafar, the head of the country’s outgoing Constituent Assembly. “Tunisia has managed to secure a peaceful power transfer in a fluid and civilised manner that will ensure the gradual introduction of democratic traditions,” he told deputies, after singing the national anthem. In the session parliamentarians voted to elect a speaker and two deputies and established a committee to draft the new assembly’s bylaws. … At this stage Nidaa Tounes’ leader Beji Caid Essebsi leads incumbent leftist politician Moncef Marzouki by 39.4 percent to 33.4 percent, or 1.9 million votes against 1.1 million votes. Marzouki contested the legitimacy of the outcome citing “attempts to prevent him from casting his ballot, breaches of regulations on electoral silence, and lack of neutrality along with fraud and forgery.” However, his appeal was thrown out of court on Monday: “The court told [Marzouki’s] campaign orally that the appeal has been rejected,” his campaign director Genidi Taleb told Anadolu Agency (AA). He said that Marzouki’s campaign will meet later to discuss the court decision.
Tunisian presidential candidate Béji Caid Essebsi is six percentage points ahead of incumbent Moncef Marzouki, but the margin is not big enough to prevent a run-off election in a fortnight. The Nidaa Tounes party chief won about 1.3 million votes, or 39.4% in the landmark election Sunday, while the interim president took 1.1 million votes, or 33.4%, Tunisia’s Independent High Electoral Commission (ISIE) announced on Tuesday (November 25th). More than 3.18 million voters took part in the poll. “In case no other presidential candidate submits an appeal against the results, a run-off will be held between December 12th-14th,” ISIE member Nabil Boufon said. Popular Front candidate Hamma Hammami came in third in the Sunday ballot, with 7.2% of the vote. Other top contenders were Hachmi Haamdi of al-Aridha Chaabia, who won 5.75%, and the Free Patriotic Union’s Slim Riahi, who received 5.55 %.
Tunisia held its first free presidential election on Sunday, taking another step forward in its transition to democracy as voters hoped for greater stability and a better economy. Many Tunisians weighed security concerns against the freedoms brought by their revolution and by its democratic reforms, which have remained on track in sharp contrast to the upheavals brought by the Arab Spring elsewhere in the region, including the military coup in Egypt and the conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya. It has not been easy for Tunisia, however, and the nearly four years since the revolution have been marked by social unrest, terrorist attacks and high inflation that pushed voters into punishing the moderate Islamists in last month’s parliamentary elections. “The thing I’m worried most about for the future is terrorism. Right now, we don’t know who’s coming into the country, and this is a problem,” said Amira Judei, 21, who voted in the southern city of Kasserine, near the border with Algeria and a point of terrorist attacks. Tunisia’s revolution began in areas such as Kasserine in the impoverished south. Voting hours in the rural regions along the border were reduced to five hours due to security fears.
Tunisia’s first democratic presidential election will be decided in a runoff next month between the two leading candidates, President Moncef Marzouki and Beji Caid Essebsi, a former prime minister, the election board announced on Tuesday. Preliminary results of the first round, held on Sunday, showed Mr. Essebsi in first place with 39.46 percent of the vote, and Mr. Marzouki second with 33.43 percent. The two front-runners will face each other in a runoff because no candidate secured a majority in the race. Given that only six percentage points separated them in the first round, the runoff may well be a closer contest than expected. It has already reopened the deep divisions in Tunisian society between secularists and Islamists and could frustrate hopes of a national unity government between the two main blocs in Parliament: Mr. Essebsi’s party, Nidaa Tounes, and the main Islamist party, Ennahda.
Tunisia’s presidential election is poised to enter a hotly contested runoff vote next month, after unofficial results showed the interim president faring better than expected against the candidate widely tipped to win. Moncef Marzouki, who was voted in as interim president in 2011 by the Constituent Assembly, appeared to have secured between 32% and 35% of Sunday’s vote, according to a tabulation released on Monday by a respected Tunisian election monitoring group, Mourakiboun. Mr. Marzouki, a human-rights activist and longtime dissident during the autocratic regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was seen as the only candidate who could pose a challenge to favorite Beji Caid Essebsi, but few observers believed he could garner such a high percentage of the vote. He was believed to have been weakened by the slow and often turbulent transition in Tunisia since a popular uprising unseated Mr. Ben Ali in 2011.
In this city where the Arab Spring was born, an undercurrent of anxiety accompanied the country’s first democratic presidential election on Sunday. Outside the cosmopolitan coastal capital of Tunis, front-runner Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old politician who served under two autocratic regimes, is viewed with suspicion. He is seen as an unsettling relic of the autocratic regimes that ruled Tunisia from its independence from France in 1956 until the 2010 uprising. “You can’t be stung by the same scorpion twice,” said Najib Issaoui, a 27-year-old fruit vendor in a small market in the center of Sidi Bouzid. “The revolution is in progress. But it isn’t finished.”
Tunisians turned out in steady, orderly lines on Sunday to vote in their first free and democratic presidential election, voicing confidence that they were turning the page on the often-fractious transition after the revolution of 2011. Exit polls suggested that neither of the two leading candidates — the interim president, Moncef Marzouki, and the former prime minister, Beji Caid Essebsi — was likely to win an outright majority and that a runoff between them would be necessary. Official results were not expected for one or two days. Mr. Essebsi, 87, leads the secular party Nidaa Tounes and has been ahead in polls for months; his party won the largest bloc of seats in parliamentary elections in October. He appeared to be winning between 42 percent and 47 percent of the vote on Sunday, according to the results of two private exit polls that were announced on Tunisian television channels.
Outspoken, long-time judge Kalthoum Kannou is Tunisia’s first female presidential candidate. On 23 November, she will compete against 22 other contenders in the country’s first round of presidential elections since the Arab Spring’s protest wave overthrew the long-lasting regime of former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Kannou is hoping that the fact that she is a woman and politically independent will win the Tunisian voters’ confidence. However, who is Kannou, what does she stand for and what are her chances? Today, Tunisia’s young and commendable democracy has somewhat 190 political parties, most of which were established in its post-revolutionary era. However, Kannou is not happy with the current political scene; many political parties compete against each other and make promises they can’t keep, she argued passionately over coffee at her headquarters in Lafayette, an old Tunis quarter. “Focus is not on Tunisia’s best,” Kannou told me. Instead, argued the 55-year old judge, the political climate is dominated by quarrels over political ideology and that the debate is far too verbal and confrontational. What her country needs now, when Tunisia is beginning a new chapter of its young democracy, is unity. “Tunisians have had enough of politics,” explained Kannou, “That’s why I presented myself for the presidency,” she declared proudly, “an independent candidate without political affiliation.”
Two Tunisian politicians pulled out of the country’s upcoming presidential elections scheduled to take place at the end of the week on 23 November. On Monday, former central bank governor Mustapha Kamal Nabli, running as an independent, ended his presidential campaign in the northern city of Bizerte. The announcement came hours after the withdrawal of another candidate, Nourredine Hachad, a diplomat and labour minister during the rule of Zine Abidine Ben Ali, ousted in a popular uprising in 2011. Millions of Tunisians are expected to head to polling stations across the country to select a new president, the first to be elected following the overthrow of Ben Ali. The elections will take place after legislative elections were successfully held in October.
Campaign posters and banners for next week’s presidential elections have covered the walls of Tunisia’s cities and towns, papering over the flaking posters from the parliamentary elections just three weeks ago. The presidential campaign, featuring 25 competitors, kicked off in early November. If no candidate wins a majority on Nov. 23, there will be a runoff between the top two vote-getters on Dec. 28. The favorite to win is Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old veteran politician who served under Ben Ali and his predecessor Habib Bourguiba, and whose party won the most seats in parliament — 39 percent — in the October elections. After 3 1/2 years of a stormy transition marked by high unemployment and terrorist attacks, Tunisians voted for Essebsi’s party Nida Tunis (Tunisia’s Call) hoping to bring back stability and prosperity. Essebsi started his campaign in Bourguiba’s coastal home town of Monastir and evoked nostalgia for this towering figure of Tunisia’s history who won independence from France and created a modern state defined by a well-educated middle class — albeit with little room for dissent. The possibility of an old-regime politician and his party controlling both the presidency and parliament has raised some concern.
Campaign posters and banners for next week’s presidential elections have covered the walls of Tunisia’s cities and towns, papering over the flaking posters from the parliamentary elections just three weeks ago. The presidential campaign, featuring 25 competitors, kicked off in early November and it’s the first time since Tunisians overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 that they will choose their head of state through universal suffrage. If no candidate wins a majority Nov. 23, there will be a runoff between the top two vote-getters on Dec. 28. Alone among the countries that experienced the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, Tunisia’s transition has remained on track. The favorite to win is Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old veteran politician who served under Ben Ali and his predecessor Habib Bourguiba, and whose party won the most seats in parliament — 39 percent — in the October elections.
In a life spanning colonial rule, war, autocracy and revolution, Tunis resident Halima never saw a reason to vote. A chance meeting in a souk earlier this month gave her one. She was introduced to Kalthoum Kannou, who has three children, a long marriage to a doctor, a 25-year career as a judge and an ambition to be the first female president of Tunisia. “I’ll go to the polling station early in the morning,” said Halima, 91, who gave only her first name, wrapped in a cloak and headscarf to ward off the chill in the open-air market. “This woman who was able to succeed at home and at work will also be able to help govern Tunisia.”
Like the rest of Egypt, Tahrir Square in Cairo is off-limits nowadays to the protesters who made it famous three years ago. Its Tunisian equivalent is still open for business. In the run-up to the North African country’s parliamentary election last week, Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis hosted rallies by major parties. Islamists and leftists were among groups sharing the tree- and café-lined boulevard, marking out their own spaces for rival campaign events. Violent upheaval and even civil war have followed the uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria in 2011. Tunisia, where that wave of unrest began, showed that it’s on a different trajectory when Islamists agreed to cede power peacefully after losing the latest vote. The Tunisian exception, analysts say, results from a less meddlesome army, more flexible politicians, and an absence of the external interference that countries deemed more important were subjected to.
Campaigning opened Saturday for a presidential election in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, with secularist Beji Caid Essebsi seen as the front-runner after his party won milestone parliamentary polls. Essebsi, 87, leads a field of 27 candidates in the November 23 vote, after Nidaa Tounes came out on top in last Sunday’s legislative election, beating the previously dominant moderate Islamist movement Ennahda. Tunisians hope both elections will provide much-sought stability nearly four years after the revolution that drove longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power in 2011. Presidential candidates include the incumbent, Moncef Marzouki, woman magistrate Kalthoum Kannou and also former Ben Ali ministers. If no candidate secures an absolute majority on November 23, a second round of voting will take place in late December. It will be the first time Tunisians have voted freely for their head of state.
A self-styled, secular, modernist party called Nidaa Tounes won against the Islamist Ennahda party in the Tunisian election this week. For many, the subsequent headline – “Secularist party wins Tunisia elections” – will seem more impressive than the fact Tunisia just completed its second genuinely competitive, peaceful elections since 2011. Indeed, in a region wracked by extremism and civil war, the secularists’ victory will strike many as further proof that Tunisia is moving forward and is the sole bright spot in a gloomy region. Some may prematurely celebrate, yet again, the death of political Islam, arguing that Tunisians achieved through the ballot box what Egyptians achieved through a popular coup, rejecting the Brotherhood and its cousin-like movements once and for all. We should exercise caution, however, in labelling Nidaa Tounes’s victory part of a seamless sweep of democratic achievements, or seeing Sunday’s vote as a clear referendum against all varieties of political Islam.
Tunisia’s first parliamentary election since the Arab Spring revolution of 2011 was transparent and credible, the head of the EU observer mission said on Tuesday. “The Tunisian people have reinforced their commitment to democracy with credible and transparent elections that gave Tunisians of all political tendencies a free vote,” Annemie Neyts-Uytterbroeck told a news conference. “Polling day passed off in a calm and orderly fashion. Everything was really very normal,” she said. “The campaign generally went smoothly. Freedom of expression and assembly were respected.”
The secular Nidaa Tounes party won the largest number of seats in Tunisia’s parliamentary elections on Monday, defeating its main rival, the Islamist party Ennahda, which just three years ago swept to power as the North African nation celebrated the fall of its longtime dictator in the Arab Spring revolution. Though just a few official results had been released on Monday night, Ennahda’s leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, called Beji Caid Essebsi, the 87-year-old leader of Nidaa Tounes, on Monday evening to congratulate him. Mr. Ghannouchi then threw a large street party for party workers outside Ennahda’s campaign headquarters, with music and fireworks. Ennahda’s former foreign minister, Rafik Abdessalem, said that by the party’s count, Ennahda had won 69 to 73 seats, while Nidaa Tounes had most likely won 83 seats. “We accept the result,” Mr. Abdessalem said. “There are some irregularities, but we consider we succeeded in this process to hold transparent democratic elections.”
Tunisia has voted in historic elections to choose its first parliament since the overthrow of long-time ruler in 2011 that sparked the ‘Arab Spring’ protests. Votes were being counted across the country on Sunday as Tunisians cast their ballots in parliamentray elections, four years after the ouster of autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Many polling stations reported high turnouts and long lines early in the day, with an estimated 60 percent of the 5.2 million registered voters turning out to vote for the 217-seat parliament. “The spotlight is on us and the success of this [vote] is a guarantee for the future,” Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said as he cast his ballot. US President, Barack Obama called the election an “important milestone in the country’s historic political transition”. “In casting their ballots today, Tunisians continued to inspire people across their region and around the world,” Obama said.
Tunisians vote Sunday to elect their first parliament since the country’s 2011 revolution, in a rare glimmer of hope for a region torn apart by post-Arab Spring violence and repression. After three weeks of largely low-key campaigning, more than five million voters are to elect 217 deputies in a ballot pitting the Islamist Ennahda movement — the country’s largest party — against a host of secular groups. Tunisia has enjoyed relative stability since the region’s 2011 uprisings in contrast to the lawlessness of Libya and Yemen, the military takeover in Egypt and Syria’s bloody civil war. But the country has flirted with disaster, particularly last year when a rise in militant activity, the assassination of two opposition lawmakers and an economy in the doldrums threatened to drag Tunisia down the same path.
Twenty-seven candidates including officials who served under former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali have signed up as candidates for Tunisia’s November 23 presidential election, the organising body said Tuesday. No fewer than 70 people originally filed applications to the Isie, which is organising the first presidential election since the January 2011 revolt forced Ben Ali to flee. “Of the 70, 27 complied with all of the conditions and were accepted, while 41 were rejected,” Isie chairman Chafik Sarsar told a news conference, adding that two other candidates withdrew.