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Chapman’s News & Ideas Tunisia’s Big Moment Sunday

The imminent American mid-term elections should not close our minds to the important elections taking place tomorrow in three friendly,but crucial states: Ukraine, Brazil and Tunisia.

In some ways, Tunisia is most pivotal. Four years after the “Arab Spring” began with a Tunisian vendor in Sidi Bouzid setting himself on fire in desperation over harassing government regulations–and thereby setting fire also to a revolution that ended a long time dictatorship–the most promising Muslim electorate in the region is about to move toward a more stable and tolerant democracy.

There have been three U.S.sponsored observer delegations here to take account of developments in the recent writing of a new constitution and now in the parliamentary elections. A presidential election will be held in a month, followed almost surely by a runoff election in December. There are so many parties that the likelihood of any one of them dominating a first round is slight.

I am with the International Republican Institute (IRI) delegation. The National Democratic Institute and The (Jimmy) Carter Center also have teams here, as do the European Union and the African Union and the Arab League. More than monitoring the election procedures and tomorrow’s voting and vote counts, the foreigners have developed relationship with many of the parties and given them information on election standards elsewhere.

Keep your fingers crossed. At the moment there is a mood of relative good will among the competitors that makes a coalition government possible, as it also is probably necessary. There were so many hopes raised in the Middle East when the Arab Spring began in 2011, only to have those hopes wither, even in Tunisia to some degree. Now eyes will be on this quiet land with mild climate and peaceful people to see if some political modus vivendi can be reached in the interest of greatly desired economic and social progress.