Tunisian elections: 'A chance the revolution gave us'


More than five million registered voters were called to the urns last weekend in Tunisia in the first parliamentary elections under it’s new constitution, and following more than three years of political transition since the toppling of the dictatorial regime of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. 

The Tunisian revolution was the first of the pro-democracy movements which swept North Africa and the Middle East in what became known as ‘the Arab Spring’, and the parliamentary elections held on Sunday, to be followed by presidential elections in November, are a crucial step for the future stability of the country, a former French colony.

Despite fears of disruption by Islamist extremists, the poll passed off without any serious incidents. As the count continued on Tuesday, it appeared likely that the secularist Nidaa Tounes party had won the most seats of any, with about 80 of the National Assembly’s 217 seats, just ahead of the moderate Islamist Ennahda movement.

Ennahda won the largest number of seats in elections called in 2011 after Ben Ali’s flight from the country, but its coalition government was forced to step down at the beginning of this year after months of protests that followed the assassination of a secular politician Mohammad Brahmi in July 2013.

The new constitution established in January introduced parity between men and women on electoral campaign lists, the first such move in any Arab country. The Tunisian Independent High Authority for Elections announced that women made up just under half of newly-registered voters.

The elections were held under a system of proportional representation, with each of the country’s regions allocated a number of parliamentary seats according to their population size.

Mediapart’s North Africa and Middle East affairs correspondent Pierre Puchot visited polling stations in the capital Tunis on Sunday, where he captured the following scenes of a historic day for Tunisia.

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  1. Ariana (part of the Grand Tunis metropolitan area), in the grounds of the Ferdaous school, transformed for the day as a polling station. Representatives of the Independent High Authority for Elections have borrowed a desk for their reception point to direct voters to the booths.

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