Home inContext Secularist Party Wins Tunisian Parliamentary Poll

Secularist Party Wins Tunisian Parliamentary Poll

Michael Johnson

The secular political party Nidaa Tounes claimed victory in Tunisia’s Parliamentary elections held on Sunday. Led by former prime minister and foreign minister Béji Caïd Essebsi, Nidaa Tounes could replace the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, which gained power in 2011.

Election officials count ballots following Tunisia’s parliamentary poll, in Tunis Oct. 26, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

According to preliminary results, Nidaa Tounes won 38 percent of the vote giving the party 83 representatives in the 217-seat parliament over the next five years. Ennahda’s 31 percent will give them 68 parliamentarians, with other small parties gaining the remaining seats. Tunisia’s central government estimated that approximately 60 percent of Tunisia’s 5.2 million registered voters turned out to cast their ballots.

With a new constitution approved by parliament last January, Tunisians will turn their attention to the presidential election next month. The upcoming poll will mark the first time the country’s top office will be directly elected in a open contest.

Tunisia is the only Arab country able to achieve some of the goals voiced by activists during the 2011 revolutions across the Middle East. But even with the ouster of long time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the subsequent election of Ennahda, the small Mediterranean state has struggled amid political infighting, slow economic growth, and high unemployment. According to analysts, Ennahda’s loss this week was partly caused by recent Islamists attacks on soldiers and the murder of two secular politicians last year.