Tunisia tries again in general election
Tunisians will have no shortage of candidates or political movements to vote for today when they vote in their general election.
The Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE) has registered 1,327 lists for the election which will be fought under a new constitution which specifies that electoral lists should comprise of 50% women.
There are 5,236,244 eligible voters voting at 10,569 polling stations, with a further 405 polling stations abroad. They will be able to choose from 9,000 candidates for the 217 seats in the Assembly of the People. Voting started at 7 a.m. and polling stations close at 6 p.m.
Voting will take place in 33 constituencies. Of these seven constituencies are abroad with two in France, and one each in Germany, Italy, the rest of Europe, the Arab world and North America. Of the remaining 27 constituencies, there is one for each of the 24 governorates and an additional one each in the large cities including the capital Tunis.
The favourites in this election are the Islamist Ennahda Movement and the secular party Nidaa Tounes (Call of Tunisia). In 2011 Ennahda won 89 of 217 seats and they have indicated that they are willing to form a national unity government with other large parties after the election.
The liberal and secular Nidaa Tounes has indicated that it will not join Ennahda in government until the Islamists make clear their links with the Muslim Brotherhood. Nidaa Tounes was founded in June 2012 by former Prime Minister Beji Caid el Sebsi.
Other parties to watch are the left-wing secular Congress for the Republic (CPR) led by interim President Moncef Marzouki; they won 29 seats in 2011. Also the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties (Ettakatol) which was founded in 1994 by National Constituent Assembly Speaker Mustapha Ben Jaffar; they won 20 seats in 2011.
Preliminary results are expected on 29th October with the final results being released no later than 24th November.
Following the parliamentary elections Tunisia will vote in a Presidential election on 23rd November with a second round runoff on 28th December if required. Ennahda has announced that it will not be putting forward a candidate and the frontrunner at the moment is Beji Caid el Sebsi of Nidaa Tounes. There are 27 candidates nominated for the Presidential election.