Tunisia election results: Nida Tunis wins most seats, sidelining Islamists
A liberal party with ties to the deposed regime has taken the most seats in Tunisia’s parliamentary elections, leaving the once-dominant Islamists running a close second, the country’s election commission has announced after the completion of final counting.
The Nida Tunis (Tunis Calls) party, running on an explicitly anti-Islamist platform, won 85 of the 217 seats in parliament, giving it the right to name a prime minister and lead a coalition government.
The Ennahda party, which had previously dominated the parliament on a platform of moderate Islamism, won 69 seats.
Since overthrowing its dictator in 2011 and kicking off the Arab Spring pro-democracy wave has been buffeted by economic turmoil and terrorist attacks.
Analysts described Sunday’s election as a referendum on the Islamist-led coalition’s stormy two years in office and punishment for a poor economic performance and unfulfilled expectations of the revolution.
Nida Tunis is led by Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old veteran politician who previously served as foreign minister in the 1980s and parliament speaker in the early 1990s under later deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The party, which includes businessmen, trade unionists and politicians from the old regime, has all but ruled out forming a coalition with the Islamists, describing it as “against their nature”, and will turn to a collection of smaller parties to garner the necessary 109-seat majority.
Running a distant third was the Free Patriotic Union of Slim Rihai, a millionaire football club owner and political neophyte, with 16 seats.
In fourth place came the leftwing coalition of parties known as the Popular Front, which had two of its members assassinated by extremists in 2013.
The liberal Afek Tounes came in fifth place with eight seats. The remaining 24 seats were split among another dozen small parties.
Election Commission head Chafik Sarsar said Nida Tunis lost one seat in the southern city of Kasserine following reports of widespread election violations by its partisans in that city.
Tunisia’s transition to democracy has remained broadly on track while Libya and Syria have descended into civil war and Egypt’s military overthrew the elected post-revolution president.
Despite three years of political wrangling, economic turmoil and a rising number of terrorist attacks, Tunisian politicians from different parties managed to work together to pass a new constitution and hold elections for a permanent government.
Presidential elections featuring dozens of candidates are set for 23 November.