Hot contest for second place in elections fuels Tunisians’ anticipation

October 31, 2011

Hours before the official results of the Tunisian elections are announced, Al Nahda, the Islamist party, has secured 76 of the 186 seats assigned.

But while there is no doubt about the triumph of the new political powerhouse, Tunisians are now curious to see whether Al Nahda would achieve the 40 per cent win its analysts had predicted.

More importantly, Tunisians will be closely monitoring which will be the second most successful party in the country following the highly embarrassing debacle by the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), the secular counterweight to Al Nahda considered up to October 23 as the second most popular party.

Following a dismal start in the south and centre of the country where votes were counted quickly due to smaller numbers of voters, the PDP has now picked some seats in the north and is expected to carry some more in the Tunis constituencies, but is unable to reach the pace setters.

According to unofficial counts, the PDP has now 10 seats, way behind the Congress for the Republic Party (CPR) and its 25 seats, the Popular Petition with 24 seats and Attakatol with 17 seats.

Good performance

The good performance by the three parties has been a total surprise that no-one has predicted and analysts are now looking into how it happened.

“We were only handful of people when we started in March,” Monsif Marzouki, the secretary-general of the Congress for the Republic, said.

Thursday, Marzouki is among three serious contenders tipped to become in November the next president of Tunisia while his party could have some portfolios in the coalition government to be formed soon.

Lack of robust electoral platform

The Popular Petition has emerged despite the lack of a robust electoral platform and full reliance on populist pledges, including free healthcare and sufficient employment opportunities. Its leader, Mohammad Hashemi Hamdi, is based in London and preferred not to return home.

The PDP has already admitted defeat and ruled out any role in a coalition government.
The party said that it would work with other opposition party to act as a counterweight to the government.

Observers said that the party line during the elections sounded rather elitist and failed to impress voters by not severing totally with the old regime and not doing enough to reach out to popular masses in the interior of the country.

The Communist Party, despite repeated appearances on national TV by its members to plead their case, has won only three seats.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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