The Middle East Channel at Foreign Policy just published my latest article on the Tunisian elections, The Day After Tunisia’s Elections. Here’s a sneak peak:
At 6:30 a.m. yesterday, the elections workers on Hope Street were scurrying and the army had taken their positions. My neighborhood elementary school was being taken over to hold the first elections since the overthrow of Ben Ali in January. A small group of voters gathered around the gates on Rue Amel (Hope Street) to cast the first ballots.
The orderly conduct of voters, observers, elections officials, and security personnel was a constant refrain throughout the day. Tunisians I spoke with almost seemed surprised that their bureaucracy could function so well. Hedia, a family friend excitedly told me, “The observers didn’t try and do anything — they just let us vote on our own.” Living in a country that has never held free elections, Tunisian voters seemed to surprise themselves by the efficacy of the process. Now, all attention will turn to the outcome — not just who won seats, but how the new assembly will be formed and where it will take the new Tunisia.
There were four great tests for the Tunisian election: non-violence, turnout, pluralism, and fairness. Their success was anything but assured.