Tunisia News

Tunisia presidential vote: Outsiders claim lead in first round

Tunisians stand against "Deal of the Century"

Two anti-establishment candidates claimed the lead in the first round of Tunisia’s presidential election on Sunday, in a poll focused on high unemployment and a surge in the cost of living.

Twenty-four candidates were standing in the election, the second since longtime ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was removed in the 2011 revolution.

But in a sign of voter apathy, especially among the young, the elections commission (ISIE) reported turnout was only 45 percent, down from 64 percent recorded in the first round in 2014.

Kais Said, a 61-year-old law professor and expert on constitutional affairs who ran a low-key campaign as an independent, claimed to be in the lead for the runoff.

He finished “first in the first round”, he said, citing exit polls in advance of preliminary results, which are expected to be announced on Tuesday.

There was also an upbeat atmosphere at the party headquarters of media mogul Nabil Karoui, who is behind bars being under investigation for money laundering, as hundreds of supporters celebrated after he also claimed to have reached the second round.

Candidates must secure 50 percent of the vote to win outright, but if none of the hopefuls obtains a majority the two with the most votes will advance to the decisive runoff. The date of the second and final round has not been announced, but it must happen by October 23 at the latest and may even take place on the same day as legislative polls, slated for October 6.

Tunisia’s president has limited powers – in charge of foreign policy, defence and national security – and governs alongside a prime minister chosen by parliament who has authority over domestic affairs.


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