In the early hours of 30 October the full results of Tunisia’s first constitutionally-backed, post-revolution parliamentary elections were announced, showing a win for the country’s biggest secular party, Nidaa Tounes, and marking a historic milestone in the country’s journey from uprising to democracy.

Voting on 26 October saw long queues at polling stations, with 60 per cent of the country’s 5.2 million registered voters casting a ballot, according to Tunisia’s Independent High Authority for Elections.

By the time the full results were published, Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that dominated Tunisia’s 2011 election, had already conceded defeat, congratulating its secular rival on its victory.

The high participation and the avoidance of any major security incidents on polling day puts the country head and shoulders above the other Arab nations that rose up in 2011 when it comes to making progress towards a functioning democracy.

While Syria is locked in a seemingly endless cycle of civil war, Libya is ransacked by militias, and Egypt faces increasingly authoritarian rule, Tunisia has made great strides towards rebuilding its country.

Not only has Tunisia managed to put in place a progressive constitution and a functioning electoral system, it also has a political elite that have, so far, been willing to make political sacrifices for stability and have chosen compromise over disruptive political standoffs at crucial stages in the democratisation project.

After voting booths closed on 26 October, Kenneth Wollack, president of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), one of the international organisations that monitored the elections, praised the country’s inclusive approach to politics.

“To all those who pronounce the end of democracy in this region, I urge you to visit Tunisia,” he told journalists in Tunis.

The final result saw Nidaa Tounes win 39 per cent of the vote, claiming 85 seats compared with Ennahda’s 69.

The Nidaa Tounes win is to some degree a protest vote against Ennahda, which is accused by many of mismanaging the country’s economy and anti-terror operations after taking power in the wake of the 2011 elections.

Critics of Nidaa Tounes say the secular party cannot be trusted because it includes a number of figures that held senior political roles under the Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali regime, but Beji Caid Essebsi, the leader of Nidaa Tounes and a former foreign minister under Ben Ali, has campaigned portraying these professional politicians as safe hands when it comes to the economy. This has struck a chord with many Tunisians desperate to see living standards improve.

Ahead of the election, Ennahda campaigned saying it would form a national unity coalition with Nidaa Tounes if it won, arguing that the country’s fragile transition needs a power-sharing agreement between its two biggest parties.

Nidaa Tounes’ 16-seat margin, and the strong performance of a number of smaller secular parties makes this kind of deal less likely, and increases the chances of Nidaa Tunis constructing a coalition that leaves Ehnadda in opposition.

Though the outlook for Ehnadda is dimmer, a power-sharing deal cannot be ruled out. A government is unlikely to be formed until after the presidential election, which is due to take place on 23 November and could drastically alter the relationship between Tunisia’s biggest parties.

Whatever kind of government is formed it will face significant challenges. Tunisia is yet to resolve huge post-revolutionary economic problems.

Since the uprising, the country’s fiscal deficit has expanded rapidly, growing from 1 per cent of GDP in 2010 to 5.9 per cent last year.

Unemployment remains high. It stood at 15.3 per cent at the end of 2013, something that continues to stoke discontent with the political system among young people and workers in the country’s industrial interior.

Security is also set to be an increasing challenge in Tunisia due to the rise of the ideology of the jihadi group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) and its influence on Tunisian militants.

The home-grown jihadi group Ansar al-Sharia swore allegiance to Isis in June. Since then, there have been threats of attacks on politicians and increasing concerns that the group could target Western holidaymakers – something that would deal a huge blow to a tourism sector struggling to recover from the turmoil of revolution.

Another major hurdle has been successfully cleared in Tunisia’s journey to democracy, but the twin threats of jihadism and economic collapse mean the country’s future is still uncertain.