A moderate Islamist party claimed victory Monday in Tunisia’s landmark elections as preliminary results indicated it had won the biggest share of votes, assuring it will have a strong say in the future constitution of the country whose popular revolution led to the Arab Spring. The Ennahda party’s success could boost other Islamist parties in the North Africa and the Middle East, although Ennahda insists its approach to sharia, or Islamic law, is consistent with Tunisia’s progressive traditions, especially in regards to women’s rights.
Party officials estimated Ennahda had taken at least 30 percent of the 217-seat assembly charged with writing a new constitution for the country. Other estimates put the party’s share from Sunday’s vote closer to 50 percent. Official results are expected Tuesday. International observers lauded the election as free and fair while emphasizing that the parties in the new government must work together and safeguard the rights of women.
There were no official announcements of domestic results Monday, but Tunisian media outlets posted tallies from individual polling stations, making it clear that Ennahda or Renaissance Party was now the dominant political force in the country, coming in first in nearly every constituency.
Ennahda did take half of the 18 seats reserved for Tunisians living abroad in official preliminary results released Monday. Two center-left parties took seven other seats between them — a distributon of seats expected to replicated domestically.