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.