On 21 December, Tunisians went to the polls to cast their vote in the Presidential runoff between 88-year old leader of secular-leaning Nidaa Tounes Beji Caid Essebsi, who gained 39% of the first round’s vote, and former human rights activist Moncef Marzouki.
Essebsi is by his supporters seen as a strong and experienced leader who will bring security and economic development to the country. “Essebsi will help the youth,” said Fatma Hermi who voted for Essebsi because he knows Tunisia and will create jobs. “I love him, just like Bourguiba,” she said with a smile.
ESSEBSI'S CRITICS on the other hand argue that the veteran politician will bring back the old regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and doubt his commitment to democracy. To them Marzouki is a symbol of the revolution and a way to preserve the revolutionary values.
Spoiled ballot in Tunisia: two hirsute candidates and the message "Power is for the people." And a ❤️ pic.twitter.com/HbachRmRxR— Tamer El-Ghobashy (@TamerELG) December 21, 2014
ONE OF THE CONCERNS during the election period has been potentially low voter turnout. Many expected Sunday’s turnout to be low but an estimated 59% of the registered voters showed up at the polling stations. However, many of the country’s youth continued to boycott the elections. Blogger Aya Chebbi voted blank, not willing to give any of the candidates her vote.
ANOTHER CONCERN HAS BEEN SECURITY, but despite an incident close to Kairouan on Sunday morning, where three attackers targeted a polling station, resulting in the death of one of the attackers and three arrests, the election period remained relatively calm.
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THE POLLING STATIONS closed at 18.00 local time. Shortly after 19.00 Essebsi’s political camp declared that “indications” suggested that Essebsi had gained the majority of vote. However, the official result is expected Monday.
TUNISIA'S CONTINUED democratic success story has sparked hope not only within the country, but across the region and beyond.
Tunisia is the country of Jasmine, spring, democracy and more importantly hope..... love you #Tunisia....— Nervana Mahmoud (@Nervana_1) December 21, 2014
As I listen to folks express what they want to see in Tunisia.. It all sounds the same. Jobs, freedoms, stability. Gives me hope. #tnprez— Wafé Ben Hassine (@ousfourita) December 21, 2014
Congrats for our TUNISIA today Proud to be tunisian Let's make history 😍😊❤✌ #tunisie2014
— Hilel (@aydi_hilel) December 21, 2014
For more photos, don't miss the slide show at the very top.