Tunisia has elected on October 26 - a second time since the fall of former president Ben Ali, the starting point of the so-called Arab Spring in January 2011. The parliamentary elections were the first elections to follow the adoption of a new constitution in January 2014, which created a 217-seat Assembly of the Representatives of the People. According to preliminary results, Nidaa Tounes (Call of Tunisia), a new secular coalition party, founded by the former prime minister Beji Caid el Sebsi, won 37,56% of the votes. Ennahda (Revival Movement), the previously ruling islamistic party, lost 16 seats and fell to 31,79%es. There is a good chance for building a coalition of the two parties under the leadership of Niida Tounes. Significant backgrounds of this elections’ result are the following processes:•After months of protests, on 23 October 2011, a Constituent Assembly was elected to draft the text of a new constitution. During the drafting process, the main points of contention were the role of religion in the government, the requirements to run for president, and the details of how the transition period after the document was passed would be handled. The new constitution makes Tunisia a decentralized and open government. It recognizes Islam as the official state religion, but protects freedom of belief. It provides for some restrictions on free speech, most notably in banning attacks on religion and accusations of being a non-believer. The constitution provides for gender equality, protects the nation's natural resources and demands the government take steps to fight corruption. Executive power is divided between the president and prime minister.•Indeed, still in August 2013, Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia's ruling Islamist party, Ennahda, rejected opposition demands that the government should resign and make way for a cabinet of neutral experts for the remainder of the transitional period. But after, the party confessed its governmental failing, followed by the building of a pure expert government.According to recent interviews, the leading figures of Ennahda reflect the fact that a peaceful pluralistic process is the only chance for Tunisia to develop. By practically accepting this process (governmental retreat, loyal participation in the recent elections), they have contributed to setting a new signal of democratisation in Arab countries. After a history full of violent aberrations - through decades Ennahda and the Tunisian government carried on a kind of war with terrorism and strict prohibition - this recent process has not been self-evident at all.The partial upcoming of Salafists still appears to be a serious challenge. Secular forces and moderate Islamic forces have to prove their capacity to jointly develop the country. As the results of the recent parliamentary elections have shown, the people want to heave peace, no hate, but solidarity and reciprocal acceptance. Let’s hope that Islamists in Tunisia and other countries as well as all secular forces will learn to go this way. Presidential elections in Tunisia are scheduled on November 23.
Ali Laarayedh: Ennahtaa
Béji Caïd el Sebsi: Nidaa Tounes
IPAInstitute for Political AnalysisProf. Dr. Volker von Prittwitz