Tunisia heads towards runoff between Essebsi and Marzouki

Karem Yehia in Tunisia, Sunday 23 Nov 2014

Tunis
People wait in line outside a polling station to vote in Tunis November 23, 2014. (PHOTO: REUTERS)

Tunisians voted Sunday in the first presidential election since 2011, the first democratic presidential elections in the country’s history.

Initial data confirms that voter turnout is less than in last month’s legislative elections, which gave secular party Nidaa Tounes the largest number of seats. The figures also highlighted a clear reluctance to vote among young Tunisians.

An hour before the polls closed Chafik Sarsar, the head of the Independent Election Commission, announced at a press conference that the total turnout of voters reached 53.7 percent, compared with the 70 percent in the parliamentary polls. Sarsar also stated that Tunis, the capital, saw the highest turnout at 61.1 percent.

No violent incidents were recorded during Sunday’s vote, Sarsar confirmed.

Nidaa Tounes’s leader Mahmoud Ben Romdhane told Ahram Online that the indicators suggest that there will be a runoff vote between Beji Caid Essebsi, the party’s candidate, and interim president Mouncef Marzouki.

According to Ben Romdhane, Essebsi is ahead on 45 percent of the vote followed by Mouncef Marzouki on 27 percent, with leftist politician Hamma Hammami of the Popular Front party on nearly ten percent.

Ben Romdhane also said that the comparatively low turnout was because many parties did not participate with their strongest candidates, unlike in the parliamentary elections.

He said that the voters realise that the authorities of the president are “far less” than the powers of the parliament and the government.

The Nidaa Tounes leader also hinted that rival Islamist party Ennahda's rank and file have abandoned their support for Marzouki because the leadership of the party obliged them to do so, fearing the future of relations with Nidaa.  

 

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