Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tunisia's Elections...'Arab Spring' Or Islamist Takeover?

Tunisia is holding elections today for the 217-seat assembly that will draft a constitution and appoint an interim government. Former President Zinedine el-Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown nine months ago.

Regardless of what some of the usual suspects are saying, this is not going to be some kind of signpost as to where the other elections in the region will be heading.Tunisia is unique in that a higher percentage of its population is literate and has a degree of education than say, Egypt, tribalism is not a major factor as it is in Libya, and Tunisia was always a more moderate country than either. Unique in the Arab world, the country even actually has a tiny Jewish population, with an historic synagogue on the Island of Djerba and a small one in Tunis. However, there were a number of indications from the demonstrations that this tolerance could change rapidly,particularly if an Islamist regime comes to power.

In spite of Tunisia's moderate image, an Islamist party, Ennahda, ( formerly Al-Nahda) is expected to win the most votes, although it may not gain enough seats to win a parliamentary majority. It's chief secular opponent is likely to be the Left-leaning, Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), led by Najib Chebbi.

Ennahda and its leader Rachid Ghannouchi have made a point, particularly in the cities, of reassuring Tunisians of their commitment to democracy and women's rights.The PDP favors a secular, European style socialist government.Significantly Ghannouchi has said that he considers the Islamism of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP as a model, which means essentially that he likes the tactics of a gradual takeover, turning a formerly moderate Muslim country into an Islamist state bit by bit.

Results are expected Monday.

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Anonymous said...

Tunisia is NOT unique in having a Jewish community. The Jewish community in Morocco is larger, approx. 3500 people, primarily in Casablanca.
I left Morocco to make aliyah only five yrs. ago. My cousins & many friends still live in Morocco, undisturbed. The situation of the Jews is far, far better than in supposedly moderate Tunisia.

Terry, Eilat - Israel

Election Systems said...

Will Tunisia get real democracy..?