Moderate Islamist party claims election win in Tunisia


The EU observer mission gave elections in Tunisia a clean bill of health

Tunisia's moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, is claiming victory in Sunday's elections, the first free poll of the Arab Spring.

Official results are expected on Tuesday, but provisional results suggest that Ennahda will win most votes while falling short of a majority.

Its main rival, the secular centre-left PDP party, has admitted defeat.

International observers praised the conduct of the vote as free and fair.

Former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown nine months ago after mass demonstrations - he had been in power for 23 years.

However, unlike its eastern neighbour Libya, Tunisia's transition from authoritarian rule has been largely peaceful.

'Greatest share'

Ennahda's leaders have pledged to create a multi-party, secular democracy, and not an Islamist state.

Tunisia poll at a glance

  • First election since Arab Spring
  • More than 100 parties contesting poll
  • Voters electing 217-member Constituent Assembly (CA) to write constitution and choose prime minister
  • CA expected to have highest female representation in Arab world
  • Election organised under proportional representation system
  • Non-registered voters with ID cards entitled to vote
  • Tunisians in some foreign countries given the vote

A spokeswoman for the party, Yusra Ghannouchi, said: "Tunisians have voted in fact for those parties that have been consistently part of the struggle for democracy and opposed to Ben Ali's dictatorship.

"At the forefront of those parties is Ennahda party, and we believe that, as expected, it has achieved the greatest share of the vote."

Tunisians are electing a 217-seat assembly that will draft a constitution and appoint an interim president, who will choose the new government.

Electoral commission secretary-general Boubaker Bethabet said more than 90% of the 4.1 million registered citizens had voted.

No turnout figures were available for another 3.1 million unregistered people who also had the right to vote.

More than 100 parties had registered to participate in the elections, along with a number of independent candidates.

Hundreds of foreign election observers and thousands of local ones monitored the poll and will be watching the vote counting.

The US and EU have praised Tunisia on the peaceful election process, with President Barack Obama saying the vote was "an important step forward".

Vote tabulation at the independent commission organising the election The official result is due to be announced on Tuesday.

Many voters emerged from polling stations holding up blue-stained index fingers - proud to show they had cast their ballots.

The mother of Mohamed Bouazizi, the young man whose self-immolation last December triggered the Tunisian revolt, told the Reuters news agency the election was a victory for dignity and freedom.

"Now I am happy that my son's death has given the chance to get beyond fear and injustice," Manoubia Bouazizi said. "I'm an optimist, I wish success for my country."

Campaigning in Tunisia was marked by concerns over splits between Islamists and secularists, party funding and voter apathy.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    All of those who are complaining about a moderate Islamist party winning, do you complain at the fact that many European countries are governed by moderate Christian governments? (Germany for example) or are you just against people who don't share your beliefs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    I respect a good man no matter his religion, his belief is for him to decide, a good man is a good man, that is how I see it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    9.Green Future
    "Who or what are "Moslems"? Is this some kind of derogatory term used to describe people who worship Islam?"

    You are just being obtuse.

    The dozens of Moslems / Muslims I meet daily, refer to themselves as Moslems. In fact our school has a religious assembly called 'Moslem assembly' by the Muslim teachers who run it!

    Please google Moslem / Muslim.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    How 'moderate' are these Islamists?

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Why oh why do facts get moderated?! Someone who can't win an argument based on truths obviously took issue with me stating that Gadaffi was a Muslim not an atheist & that people shouldn't assume Islamists are all like the Taleban. Too many religious people think that atheism is the root of all evil & that anyone not subscribing to their beliefs is offensive.


Comments 5 of 66


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