Voters in Tunisia Gear up for Historic Election

Posted October 22nd, 2011 at 9:45 am (UTC-5)
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Ten months after the surprise toppling of long-time dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisians head to the polls Sunday to vote in the country's first ever democratic election in since its independence in 1956.

More than 100 parties are running for a place in the 217-seat Constituent Assembly, a sharp contrast from past elections when voters were forced to reelect the ruling party. Analysts predict the moderate Islamist party Ennadha will win the biggest share of the vote, but will not capture a majority.

Once the new government is established they will be tasked with writing a new constitution to replace the old one used by the dictatorship that was overthrown on January 14.

Polling stations will be guarded by police and soldiers, and thousands of domestic and foreign election observers and journalists will be at hand to witness the polling.

The elections are being closely watched by the international community because if they produce an effective government, the country is likely to once again serve as an inspiration to pro-democracy advocates in the region.

Tunisia's anti-government protests sparked a wave of other revolts across North Africa and the Middle East known as the Arab Spring. The movements led to the ouster of long-time dictatorial leaders in Egypt and Libya, and demonstrations in Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria.