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.
Other candidates are focusing on voters frustrated by political elites and successive governments that many feel have failed to live up to promises of the 2011 revolution, which unleashed uprisings around the Arab world.
Tunisia has gone through a rocky transition to a democratic system seen as exceptional in a region dominated by authoritarian leaders.
More than half of the candidates in the local elections are under 35 and 49 percent are women, a rarity in the Arab world. Eighteen lists are led by disabled candidates.