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Chapman’s News & Ideas Tunisia Offers New Hope for Democracy in Islamic Land

A Sample Ballot

A Sample Ballot

The elections in Tunisia yesterday showed that democracy is a real and growing commitment in the country where the “Arab Spring” began three years ago. Maybe because free choice has taken such a varied beating elsewhere in the region, Tunisians seemed determined to use the levers of the franchise to create a new political reality in this overwhelmingly Muslim land on the African coast south of Sicily.

Some fifteen teams with the International Republican Institute–me among them–fanned out to 200 polling stations early yesterday morning and didn’t get back to their headquarters until late last night or today. Voter urnout was up–from 50 percent for the first elections in 2011 to an estimated 60 percent yesterday. Final returns won’t be published until Thursday, though some news services already are predicting results.

A poster on the voting process, outside a polling station.

A poster on the voting process, outside a polling station.

Discreet campaigning on the streets of Tunis.

Discreet campaigning on the streets of Tunis.

Our driver, after voting.

Our driver, after voting.

Congressman Tom Petri and I meet election officials

Congressman Tom Petri and I meet election officials

International Republic Institute (IRI) Press Conference

International Republic Institute (IRI) Press Conference