mercredi 26 octobre 2011

Islamists hold strong lead halfway through the count

Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Ennahda.

As of Tuesday night, there were 101 seats on 217 that were already accounted for. During a press conference held around 22:45, the independent organization that supervises the election (ISIE in French) announced that they would have no further results until the final tally was complete.

It was initially the plan to release the results on Monday; it was then moved to Tuesday afternoon. Now it looks like we’ll only get to know later on today – it seems that voter turnout was much higher than expected which caused some technical difficulties at voting stations.

As predicted, the Islamic party Ennadha holds a commanding lead at the moment with a total of 43 seats. With 116 left up for grab, a majority at the Assembly is still possible for them. To do it, they will need to obtain 66 more – the minimum number of seats for a majority government is 109 (66+43).

CPR remains in second position with 16 seats. Aridha Chaabia, a party that no one expected to win, is third with 12 seats, just ahead of Ettakatol’s 10 seats.

Mohamed Hechim Hamdi.
Because of their surprise success, Aridha Chaabia was the center of the media’s attention for most of the day. Their party leader Mohamed Hechim Hamdi is the owner of two television stations and used to be affiliated with Ennadha.

Suspicions of electoral fraud have arisen, mainly in regards to Aridha Chaabia and Ennadha. The ISIE reminded parties that if they wish to file a complaint for fraud, they have 48 hours after the final results are announced to do it. Two weeks have been planned by the watchdog group to go through litigation regarding the election. After this, the Constituent Assembly will be able to start its work.

Furthermore, it was clarified that only evidence of financial fraud will lead to a party being stripped of a seat. Other violations, such as illegal publicity will be punishable by fines.

Several thousands of Ennadha’s supporters spent part of the evening celebrating in front of party headquarters in Tunis yesterday. Party officials made no comment except to say that ‘‘many voting stations have not finished counting and we are still open to forming a coalition at the Assembly’’.

Recent rumors suggest that an alliance between Ennadha and either CPR or Ettakatol to form a majority government may be in the works. No parties have confirmed this.

To follow the results live, consult this page and this table

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