Nobody seemed to take the Popular Petition Party seriously until they won 26 seats in the Tunisian Parliament. Founded and funded by a London-based media executive whose TV station used to be critical of the Ben Ali regime and later collaborated with his regime on commercial deals, the Petition Party had strong showings in rural areas of Tunisia.
So when the Election Committee annulled the election of three Petition Party candidates, voters in Sidi Bouzid rose up in protest. This is the city where a young man set himself on fire to protest corruption and sparked the Arab Spring. A curfew has been imposed.
One of the expelled candidates had previously run as a candidate for the old ruling party, a violation of Tunisian electoral laws. According to the Guardian, however, the Popular Petition Party has strong ties to Ben Ali’s defunct RCD Party. Observers suspect that remnants of that party mobilized grassroots networks of rural supporters to gain a surprise victory.