Islamist Al Nahda emerging as the lead force in Tunisia

October 31, 2011

Al Nahda, the moderate Islamist party that had been banned in Tunisia until eight months ago, is reportedly emerging as the leading political force in the country amid initial claims that it outperformed its competitors in the elections.

Claims about Al Nahda’s performance were based on unofficial reports and alleged leaks from voting locales where the votes were being counted one day after Tunisians cast ballots to choose a national constituent assembly that will draft a constitution and choose an interim president and an interim prime minister for the next year.

Official results will be announced on Tuesday afternoon, Kamal Jendoubi, the head of the Independent Higher Commission for the Elections said. The commission said that it preferred to wait until it had the full results before going public with them to ensure that there was no confusion or mistakes.

However, Tunisians said that regardless of who wins in the elections, the elected deputies will have to rise to the new responsibility.

“Be it Al Nahda or any other political party, its deputies should appreciate that getting elected by the nation in such special conditions means possessing the aptitude to assume fully and with true competence the heavy tasks,” Manoubi Marrouki, an analyst, told Gulf News. “The constituent assembly deputies should understand that they will not absolute or unchallenged powers and must comply with the people’s choices, will and determination,” he said.

Al Nahda supporters responded to reports about their alleged lead in the elections by saying that it was the free will of the people expressed through ballots.

“The people are siding with their roots and heritage,” Sami Ajina, a teacher, said.

However, his optimism was not shared by liberals who expressed concerns that about a party with a strong religious platform having a powerful say in the drafting of the country’s constitution or in choosing the top leaders of Tunisia, a traditionally moderate and forward-looking country.

“A victory for Ennahdha simply means that we will have one Facebook for young men and another Facebook for young women,” a blogger mused.



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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