The head of the Council of Europe election monitoring mission to Tunisia, Andreas Gross, has praised the recent electoral process. The Swiss parliamentarian said the vote “ends a crucial stage in the post-revolution transition”.
Tunisia's Ennahda party, the first Islamist movement to secure power after the 2011 “Arab Spring” revolts, conceded defeat on Monday in elections that are set to make its main secular rival the strongest force in parliament.
Official results from Sunday's elections – the second parliamentary vote since Tunisians set off uprisings across much of the Arab World by overthrowing autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali – were still to be announced.
But a senior official at Ennahda, which ruled in a coalition until it was forced to make way for a caretaker government during a political crisis at the start of this year, acknowledged defeat by the secular Nidaa Tounes party.
Gross, who led the ten-strong Council of Europe observer mission, commended the election. “We were surprised by the almost perfect quality of the electoral process. The electoral law was inclusive and transparent.”
ʻNeither fraud, nor manipulationʼ
“The result was favourable to the smaller parties and the parliamentary assembly that results will be really representative of the people,” said the centre-left Social Democrat. “We can say that there was neither fraud, nor manipulation. No party discredited their opponent.”
Swiss parliamentarian André Bugnon, who was also present, said the group was impressed by the organisation and discipline of the electoral process.
“We have followed Tunisia for some time. I have been here seven times since the revolution. The election of the Constituent Assembly was well organised but this time it was even better.”
But the electoral process can still be improved, he added. Among the group’s recommendations, they say more resources should be given to the parties, while demanding transparency on the origin of funds. The media should encourage political debate and efforts should be made to get young people, women and poorer communities involved in the electoral process.
A Council of Europe monitoring delegation is set to return to Tunisia for the first round of the presidential election on November 23.
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