Europe hails Tunisian elections

Oct. 26, 2011 at 10:17 AM
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TUNIS, Tunisia, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The transparency of the elections in Tunisia shows the determination its people have to have democratic debates about their future, European lawmakers said.

Nearly all of the eligible voters in Tunisia took to the polls during the weekend to choose the 217 members of a constitutional assembly that will eventually usher in a new government.

The election was seen as free and fair and widely heralded as a bellwether for revolutionary trends in the Middle East. Moderate Islamist party Ennahda took the plurality of the vote but fell short of the absolute majority.

Members of the European Parliament praised the weekend vote, noting that, despite "imperfections," it met international standards.

"We were moved to see joy and hope on the faces of young people, women, old people, everyone," Italian lawmaker Gabriele Albertini said in a statement. "We were impressed to see polling stations close early because everyone had voted! Can there be a stronger indication than that of the determination of the Tunisian people to engage in truly democratic debate and open a new chapter in their history?"

Albertini led a 14-member delegation of European lawmakers to observe the Tunisian vote.

A protest suicide in December sparked the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, a revolution that spilled across much of the Middle East and North Africa.

Ennahda said it would seek a national consensus that was open to all political and religious groups. Laws giving equal rights to women would be kept on the book, the party said.

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