Tunisian elections bring new dawn

24 October 2011

Tunisians now just have to wait and see whether the victorious Ennahda party will deliver on its promises

Tunisians made history on 23 October, successfully voting in the country’s first free and fair elections since the country was granted independence from France in 1956.

The elections also mean Tunisia is the first Arab country affected by recent uprisings to hold successful elections. Its elections and their outcome will have been scrutinised as an indication of what to expect in the other Arab countries.

Tunisians have sacrificed much to get to this stage and there is a real sense that a true democracy will be created in time. While the elections go some way in filling the power vacuum and establishing stability, people will need to be patient until the longer-term outcome becomes clear.

The moderate Islamist party Ennahda now plans to form a new government within a month. The next stage of transition will be to see how Ennahda takes to power. Although initially inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood, its stance has since evolved to become more progressive. In the run up to the elections, it promised not to impose sharia law and to support equal rights for women.

What is still unclear is whether this change was a true recognition that a more moderate stance would be better received domestically and abroad or whether it was a tactic in order to win votes. The party must now reassure those people that remain nervous about Islamists holding power.

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