Tunisians to vote in landmark parliamentary elections


Tunisians are set to vote in the country’s first full parliamentary elections under a new constitution passed earlier this year.

The election is one of the final stages of the political transition that followed the ousting of Dictator Zain Al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

The moderate Islamist Al-Nahda (Renaissance) party, along with the liberal Nidaa Tunis (Tunisia’s Call), are seen as the most powerful contestants, however expectations favour Al-Nahda, who won Tunisia’s last national election in 2011.

Tunisia is seen as the birthplace of a wave of pro-democracy demonstrations beginning in 2011, which sought to replace autocratic governments in several Arab countries and became known as the ‘Arab Spring’.

More than 50,000 security personnel and nearly 30,000 soldiers are expected to be deployed on Sunday to ensure safe voting.

However, radical groups within Tunisia have threatened to disrupt the elections.

On Thursday militants shot a policeman in the outskirts of the capital Tunis.

Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa warned that extremist groups could attempt to attack voting stations.

“We know that the election will be a target because it is unique in the region. It brings hope”, he said during an inspection of troops near Tunis.

Around five million Tunisians have registered to vote, with overseas residents having already cast their votes on Friday.

Al-Nahda party, which currently rules in coalition with other parties, has promised to form a unity government, even if it wins majority seats.

Tunisia is set to hold presidential elections on 23 November, which will deliver the country’s first directly elected president following the ousting of Ben Ali in 2011.