VIDEO: Tunsians turn out in droves to vote in first election since Arab Spring revolution

The Takeaway

Story by The Takeaway. Listen to the above audio for a complete report.

Tunisians turned out in droves on Sunday to vote in their first election since the Arab Spring protests overthrew their autocratic leader.

According to the New York Times, millions turned out to vote for representatives who will draft a new constitution that will govern Tunisia going forward. Tunisia was the first country to overthrow its government during the Arab Spring protests.

All is not well, though, said Naima Nour, director of the Tunisian Cultural & Information Center USA. Nour, who voted via absentee ballot, said Islamist party candidates appear to be winning a plurality of the seats, and may even earn an outright majority. If that were to happen, it’s very likely that some of Tunisia’s fairly liberal policies with regards to women will be rolled back as they implement a more strict interpretation of Islam and Islamic law.

“It’s a disaster. If the Islamist are going to go in power, it’s a disaster,” she said.

Nour said that under the previous regime, even as autocratic as it was, women made up 30 percent of the participants. In this current election, women made up just five percent of the candidates. And women of all ages are being offered retirement, in order to get them to return home and give the jobs to men, she said.

If Islamists do take a large share of the seats, Nour said it will be up to women to make sure they aren’t marginalized. And she believes they will take to the streets to make that happen.

Nour would like to return to Tunisia, but said she won’t do so if the election turns out that way.

“Not under a regime that is Islamist or fanatic,” she said.


“The Takeaway” is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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