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Oct 29, 2011

Tunisia has Joined the Democracy Club

The Arab Spring Revolution has begun to bear fruits in Tunisia. The Tunisian people began to cast their votes last Sunday (10/23/11) in a democratic way for the first time in their modern history. International organizations have reflected positively on the Tunisian election and have recognized its transparency and straightforward achievement of succeeding in removing the country from dictatorship and creating a democratic setting in a short period.

However, it was also reported that the popular political party headed by Mr. Hamdi, who is linked to the previous regime, has violated election rules. The seats they have won were canceled by the election commission due to financial irregularities used in Sidi Bouzed City.

Mouhammad bou-Azizi set himself on fire (12/2010) to protest the corrupt authoritarian regime of Zein Al Abideen, which led to the collapse of his regime. This has paid off for the Tunisian population. The Tunisian electoral commission said that the Islamic Ennahda political party emerged as the winner in the election and they will end up getting between 40%-45% of the votes for the assembly, which will consist of 90 seats out of the 217 seats.

The party’s leader Mr. Rashid Ghannouchi has said publicly that he will not form an Islamic state and he will invite other secular political parties to join his government. The reported news noted that Mr. Ghannouchi has already contacted two centers, left secularist groups, the Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol as possible partners in the proposed future government that will be formed when the voting counts end.

Tunisia, which led the Arab Spring Revolution, also initiated the first real and free secular democratic voting in an organized and peaceful manner in the modern history of the Arab world.

It was reported that more than 90% of the eligible Tunisian voters have participated in the election. The Tunisian people have set an example to the rest of the Arab world as a model to follow the path toward democracy.

The Tunisian people deserve the credit for the smooth transition that took place during the past nine months after the collapse of the previous regime. They have developed a sound political strategy by starting with the creation of a civilian commission who supervised the direction of the transitional period, which at the end led to the election of its parliament. Despite the fact that the Egyptian revolution took place one month later, the transitional period reflects many problems due to the fact that the Egyptian Higher Military Council has been the source of authority and not the civilian government. In Tunisia, the military stayed out of the way of the civilian transitional authority.

Furthermore, the Tunisian people traditionally have lived in a more socially and culturally liberal environment, even under the previous authoritarian regime of Zein al Abideen. For example, Tunisian women enjoyed more equality than their counterparts in Egypt. Also, the illiteracy rate in Tunisia is less than 15% while in Egypt it is about 34% for the society at large. The illiteracy rates among Egyptian women are much higher than among the men.

Since its independence, the Tunisian government has put more emphasis on education and healthcare, even before Zein al-Abideen assumed power 24 years ago. The Egyptian situation has been deteriorating rapidly during the more than three decades of Hosni Mubarak’s rule.

One additional remark to be made is that the Tunisian Islamic Ennahda political party is more liberal in its views of Islamic interpretation than any organized Islamic political group in the Arab world. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood could learn a great deal from their Tunisian brothers.

Finally, we can say without hesitation, so far, that Tunisia is marching on the right path towards the creation of a democratic society and that it is setting an example for the rest of the Arab world to follow.

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