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.
Mr. Essebsi, an 87-year-old veteran politician who served in ministerial roles under Mr. Ben Ali and Tunisia’s previous strongman, Habib Bourguiba, appeared set to win between 37% and 40% of Sunday’s vote, according to Mourakiboun. Many Tunisian analysts believed his message of restoring economic prosperity and security had tapped into a national mood of impatience over the country’s rocky transition and economic troubles.
Official vote tallies aren’t expected before Tuesday, but international and local monitoring groups said the likelihood of a runoff was all but ensured. The groups also widely praised the election, in which 22 candidates participated, as free and fair.
Full Article: Tunisian Presidential Vote Goes to a Runoff – WSJ.