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Tunisia: Moderate Islamists Claim Victory In Elections

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By Vesnovskaya Maria

Moderate Islamists in Tunisia are celebrating their victory in the country’s Constituent Assembly election. The leaders of the Ennahda (Renaissance) party claim they have received more than 30% of the vote.

Sunday`s elections showed a record 90% turnout. The head of the Russian delegation of election observers, Siyabshakh Shapiyev, shares his impressions with the VoR:

“Fifteen minutes before the election began, polling stations saw quite a large number of people willing to cast their votes. The voting hours were extended until 9 p.m. The vote passed off peacefully, with no violations reported either during or after the elections.”

The 217-seat Constituent Assembly is expected to draft a new constitution and appoint a new interim president and government. Although Ennahda has won the biggest share of the vote, none of the parties have managed to achieve an outright majority. It means that the Assembly will be made up of very different factions, each having its own program. The start of a democratic Tunisia will be marked by the parties` attempts to achieve a compromise on the most pressing issues, says Alexander Tkachenko of the Russian Center for African Studies:

“The December-January uprising against President Ben Ali certainly had an impact on Sunday`s elections. Thirty years of political stagnation cannot be ignored. It must be stressed, however, that those were Tunisia`s first elections in the past 50 years that were truly democratic and free.”

Nevertheless, experts are being cautious on the election results, first of all because the winning party professes Islamist views. It is worth mentioning here that after the death of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya last week, the local rebels announced that from now on, their country would be governed by the Sharia law. At the same time, radical Islamist and nationalist sentiments are getting stronger in Tunisia, too, which means that there is a danger that radical Islamists (rather than moderates like Ennahda) may gain a majority in parliamentary and presidential elections in future.

Since it was Tunisia where the ‘Arab Spring’ was born, the results of the recent elections will serve as an example for the rest of the Arab world. The so-called ‘Jasmine revolution’ in January 2011 unseated President Ben Ali. The event sparked similar anti-government protests in other Arab states. Dr. Chris Alexander, Associate Deanfor International Programs at Davidson University comments:

Sunday`s elections in Tunisia have proved that a revolution does not necessarily lead to chaos. A political crisis can be settled without foreign interference, opening the way to democratic reforms.

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VOR

VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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