Tunisians Vote Sunday

“Even if this choice of opting for peaceful political engagement doesn’t bear fruit very quickly, we believe that in the longterm, it is good for the people and for the country.” -  Rachid Ghannouchi

Tunisians go to the polls this Sunday.  Voting by Tunisians overseas began Thursday.  Strict rules are in effect.  According to Al Jazeera:

Election day inside Tunisia is on Sunday, and the results are expected to be announced the following day.

The ISIE, the Tunisia electoral authority created earlier in the year to oversee the electoral process, has introduced strict rules to govern campaigning. Some, such as the ban on campaign advertising ahead of the official campaign period (October 1-21), were introduced only weeks ahead of the election.

This is the first democratic election coming out of the Arab Spring, as Tunisia was the spark that started a region-wide democratic uprising.  I can’t help to put a bit of subjectivity into this post.  I am excited.  I can’t wait for the results.   But Ghannouchi’s quote above is realistic.

Tunisia and Egypt almost made ousting autocrats ruling for 30 to  40 years look easy.  It’s not.  Egyptian democrats are right now confronting the Egyptian Military Council’s (SCAF) postponement of presidential elections until 2013 and the multiple delays on ending Mubarak’s emergency laws.

Nevertheless, one of Tunisia’s front runners has laid the gauntlet down”

In a meeting on Thursday, al-Nahda, the pro-democratic Islamist party headed by Rachid Ghannouchi that polled highly in the run-up to the election, warned that if the party suspected the election results were rigged, they would take to the streets. (Ed: the party is committed to non-violence and democratic rule.)

Tunisia’s democratic transition is being watched throughout the region, with many considering it a trial case for genuine democracy in the Arab world.

In other words, there is no turning back.  The Arab Spring successfully drew a line between the post-independence autocratic rulers in Northern Africa and the Middle East and a future of democratic sovereignty. Nevertheless, set-backs are inevitable.  The Tunisian elections are a test.  May they deliver the leadership and promise of the Arab Spring!

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