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Tunisian Elections – Live Updates


Tunisian Elections – Live Updates


October 25th live updates have opened! Click here.

End October 24th.

9:01 pm – Closing down the Tunisia Live updates for the night, barring any big news. Follow again tomorrow, when ISIE has said they will release national results.

8:47 pm – Ennahda earned 50% of the international seats without earning 50% of the popular vote. The France 1 district demonstrates how this can happen. France 1 will be represented by five seats, so each 20% of the France 1 vote earns a seat. Ennahda won 30% of the vote, so they are assigned one seat and have 10% of the vote left over. The rest of the seats go to the runners up, in order. The CPR was second with 12% of the vote; they earn a seat. The next seat would go to Ettakatol in third with 8%, but Ennahda still has that 10% left over, which beats Ettakatol’s 8%. So Ennahda wins a second seat, and then Ettakatol and the PDM win the remaining two seats.

Through this process, Ennahda wins 40% of the seats (two of five) with 30% of the vote. This “rounding error” will happen repeatedly in districts throughout Tunisia, overall adding up to a discrepancy between votes earned and seats won.

Of course, the process could go the other way. If Ennahda wins 22% in a district where 20%  wins a seat, those extra two percent probably will not earn another seat, meaning their representation in the Constituent Assembly is smaller than their popular victory in that hypothetical district.

Many are wondering whether Ennahda could win 50% of the popular vote, but the proportional list system could hand them a majority in the Constituent Assembly even if they are a few percentage points shy of the majority in the popular vote.

7:36 pm – International results in a bit more detail, also available on our results page:

District Ennahda CPR Ettakatol PDM Aridha Chaabia
France 1 2 1 1 1 0
France 2 2 1 1 0 1
Italy 2 0 1 0 0
Germany 1 0 0 0 0
Arab World & Other 1 1 0 0 0
Americas & Rest of Europe 1 1 0 0 0
Total 9 4 3 1 1

7:16 pm – The press conference is over and the ISIE Media Center is buzzing. The final announcement of ISIE was that all appeals of the results based on violations will be  considered, and the ISIE’s ruling will be final.

7:06 pm – ISIE member notes that it is possible to cancel a seat one based on violations of campaign laws, particularly an expenditure cap. He calls this rule “dangerous,” an interesting and accurate word choice. Opening the results to legal proceedings could leave the Constituent Assembly open to endless litigation. Ongoing lawsuits could threaten the popular legitimacy of the body, even if the lawsuits are frivolous.

6:56 pm – With these official – though preliminary – results, Ennahda has won 50% of international seats. With no previous experience in Tunisian elections, it is difficult to use these results to predict an overall outcome. But a majority of seats in the Constituent Assembly could be within sight for Ennahda.

6:50 pmInternational results according to the ISIE: 9 seats for Ennahda, 4 seats for the CPR, 3 seats for Ettakatol, 1 seat for the PDM, and 1 seat for Ridha Chaabia. See our results tables here.

6:20 pm – Interim Tunisian President Foued Mebazaa has issued a message to the president of Turkey expressing his condolences after the earthquake that struck eastern Turkey yesterday. He expresses sympathy for the families of the victims and prays that God protect the Turkish people, brothers of Tunisians.

5:59 pm - This morning’s leaked results caused the first “Who?” moment for many journalists and even Tunisians. The party “Al Aridha Al Chaabia lil Adalaa wal Horria wal Tanmia” won majorities of 90% in some polling stations in Sidi Bouzid. The party name means Popular Petition for Justice, Freedom, and Development, and it is led by Mohamed Hechmi Hamdi, known for owning and frequently appearing on the TV Channel “Mostakella.” He is a former member of Ennahda and was an opponent of former President Ben Ali. He comes from the region of Sidi Bouzid.

The proportional list voting system makes it likely that numerous smaller parties and independents with narrow, regional electoral bases make it into the Constituent Assembly. Their influence on the future government and constitution is a wild card.

5:36 pm – BREAKING: Moderate Islamist party Ennahda will win more than 30% of the vote, according to Ennahda spokesman Abd Lahmid Ejlassli at a press conference at party headquarters. He cited unofficial internal figures, presumably from party observers. He emphasized that in the current circumstances, political alliances are crucial, and he sought to reassure economic actors that the country would remain stable.

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Protesters, press, police, and the ISIE Media Center in the background in downtown Tunis, October 24th, 2011.

5:03 pm – The protest outside the ISIE Media Center is about 80 people, mostly quiet but a few strident, all condemning Ennahda for violations on election day. Ennahda has been widely accused of advertising outside of polling stations, which is illegal.

The number of cameras per protester is impressive. See photo at right.

4:43 pm – There is a loud protest outside the ISIE Media Center at the Palais des Congres in downtown Tunis, and security has become involved. Doubtless this will be a well-covered event. More details as they are available.

4:36 pm – A Tunisia Live reporter stumbled across a political debate on Avenue Habib Bourguiba. Two men were discussing the preliminary results, which show Ennahda doing unexpectedly well. One of them, wearing a professional button-down, slacks, and glasses, said he was vehemently against Ennahda, but still, “The most important thing is that Tunisians accept the results of these elections, because after all, it is the choice of the people.”

Tunisia is already a democracy.

4:09 pm – Mosaique FM has made small additions to the leaked results. The most significant appears to be from two unnamed polling stations in downtown Tunis in the Tunis 2 district: Ennahdha 4051 votes, Ettakatol 1956, and CPR 906. No mention of the total votes reported, which would give us a sense of how many seats this could translate into. Once again this small sample show that with the PDP absent, Ettakatol appears to be the new king of the center-left, and the CPR appears more powerful than expected.

3:48 pm – Arrive a half-hour early, discover the press conference will be two hours late. From the ISIE Media Center downtown, we just learned that the 4pm press conference has been postponed until 6pm. An ISIE member says they want to make sure the preliminary results of international voting are presented accurately.

2:47 pm - Anouar Ben Hassen, a member of the Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE), told the TAP state news agency that leaked election results are a common occurrence. He did not confirm or deny the accuracy of the leaked results we reported this morning, but his statement appears to be an unofficial indication that ISIE knows those reports are correct.

2:21 pm – Portrait of the Communist party (PCOT) after the polls closed last night here.

2:10 pm – National television just featured a member of ISIE in Sousse saying that Ennahda has won four of the district’s ten seats. Al Moubadara came in second and will probably get two seats. Ettakatol was third, and the Democratic Modernist Pole (PDM) came in fourth. It looks like ISIE may not be able to hold back on domestic results after all. Time to head to the ISIE Media Center.

1:55 pm – The state news agency, TAP, announced just after noon that official, preliminary election results for international districts will be announced from their downtown media center at 4pm today. Expect that press conference to start late.

1:49 pm – A quick look around the various websites claiming to have unofficial election results show that they have all copy-pasted the same material from Mosaique FM. It looks like Mosaique planned ahead or had a good overnight team working to collect leaks from a large number of  polling stations after the count. These preliminary results are driving the political conversation today, domestically and in international coverage, but again, they only cover about 40, maybe 50 polling stations. There are over 7,000 polling stations in Tunisia and 432 abroad.

1:06 pm – One more update before buying a greasy makloub sandwich: “Preliminary results are not accurate as the counting process is still going,” said Sami Taieb of the Democratic Modernist Pole. “Our own observers are still working on it. We’ll wait for the final results.” He was optimistic about his chances over the presumed center-left heavyweight, the PDP: “We believe that so far we have more votes than PDP but we still need to wait to confirm that.”

12:44 pm – Time for a brief lunch break. In the meantime, Mohamed Bennour of Ettakatol gave us a great look into the mindset of political parties as we await real results.

12:06 pm – Mohamed Abbou of the CPR tells Tunisia Live, “As per the future, no party will obtain more than 50% of the votes, thus no party will decide on their own, and there has to be a coalition government. The CPR doesn’t have agreements with any party, and we certainly are not going to make deals that involve the constitution.”

Abbou’s comments echo a call from Ettakatol press attache Mohamed Bennour for a government by consensus. Bennour told Tunisia Live that a government dominated by Ennahda alone would cause instability, even leading to large protests in the street and ongoing insecurity. We read these comments not as a veiled threat but as realistic analysis.

12:00 noon: If Ennahda wins 40% – and preliminary results indicate that this is plausible – the burning question is whether the Congress for the Republic (CPR) enters into a formal coalition with Ennahda. Remember that the first task of the Constituent Assembly is not to write a constitution but to appoint a government. Together the two parties could win a majority. Our preliminary results show the CPR polling better than their single-digit poll numbers of September.

The CPR’s approach to Islam in government is hard to estimate, but as a party they are known as defenders of Tunisian identity. However conservative the CPR may or may not be, a government formed largely from Ennahda and the CPR could be an extraordinary departure for a nation that has called itself secular for decades.

11:30 am – Ettakatol press attache Mohamed Bennour was not at all surprised when Tunisia Live described the early, unofficial results to him. “I think these are correct,” he said, saying that Ettakatol had preliminary results of their own from “several levels.” He did not explicitly say that results from his sources match Mosaique’s results.

We will have more from Ettakatol and other party leaders discussing preliminary results as the day proceeds.

11:03 am – The results reported in earlier posts today are unofficial, from the website of Mosaique FM. They appear to be credible leaks from within voting stations, where the count began late last night. Overall, the numbers include unofficial results from about 40 different voting stations. For comparison, there are 181 polling stations in the district of Sousse alone, so as an estimate of national results, the 40 on Mosaique FM are a very poor sample.

Assuming this limited information is credible, a few lessons emerge. First, moderate Islamist party Ennahda easily won 40% and over 50% in many stations, giving us the first indication that their electoral success may go well beyond the 20%-30% estimated by many polls.

Second, this small glimpse reveals a high level of regionalism, a factor that polls and analysis have had difficulty predicting. In Sousse, for example, Al Moubadara (the Initiative) party came in first in a few stations and second after Ennahda in many others. Al Moubadara leader Kamel Morjane is from the region of Sousse, and his party did not appear among the top two or three parties anywhere else except in neighboring Monastir. A similar situation appears to be taking place in Sidi Bouzid with the independent Al Aridha Al Chaabia list.

Last note for this update: In polls throughout the year, the two largest center-left political parties that appear to directly oppose Ennahda have been the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) and Ettakatol. The PDP was consistently the more popular in polls, but in this tiny glimpse of the results, Ettakatol appears to have surpassed the PDP and taken the lead as the most popular center-left party in Tunisia.

10:20 am – In Tunis 1, Mosaique FM is saying that one downtown polling station gave 886 votes to Ennahda, 515 for the CPR, 407 for Ettakatol, 191 for the PDM, and 124 for the PDP.

9:54 am – In Bizerte, Mosaique FM gives Ennahda the lead in four bureaus. “Ecole rue d’espagne, room 2″ is roughly representative of the proportions: 349 votes Ennahdha, 135 votes CPR, 115 votes Ettakatol, 38 votes PDP. The total votes accounted for among this handful of bureaus appears to be less than 3% of the total votes cast in the Bizerte district.

Remember you can find profiles of the major political parties on our election resources page, under party profiles.

9:36 am – Mosaique FM says that Ennahda has won 21,000 votes or 47% in Sfax 1 and 34,000 votes or 40% in Sfax 2. This implies that almost half the votes have been counted, meaning the results could be very credible, but the lack of detail in the report makes us hesitant.

I have been using the terms “bureau” and “polling station” interchangeably. By “district” I mean an entire electoral district.

9:22 am – From a number of districts, Mosaique FM is reporting preliminary results based on only one or two polling station. One bureau in Medenine gave 50% of its votes to Ennahda, with the Congress for the Republic Second. InMonastir, Ennahda leads two bureaus, with Al Moubadara in second place. In Ben Arous, one district has Ennahda in the lead with 1110 votes, followed by the CPR with 426 votes, Ettakatol at 496, PDP at 231, and PDM at 123. To put these numbers in context somewhat, a seat is won by approximately 20,700 votes.

9:11 am – We are reporting results from Mosaique FM. It seems unlikely that these results are simply fabricated, but there are good reasons to be cautious in interpretation. If only about 4% of the votes are being reported, then this could mean smaller, more rural bureaus are reporting first. Projecting overall results based on a handful of rural districts would obviously skew the results, but with so little history of elections in Tunisia, it is very difficult to say in which direction.

9:08 am – In Sousse, Ennahda leads in fourteen bureaus according to Mosaique FM, with mostly about 20-40% of the vote and a few outliers above 50%. The number of votes reported between these bureaus represents about 3% or 4% of total votes for the district, based on my very rough back-of-the-envelope calculations. The Initiative Party (Al Moubadara), an RCDist party, also leads a couple bureaus.

8:55 am: According to Mosaique FM…

In Beja, Ennahda leads in the seven listed bureaus, holding between about 20% and 40%. Ettakatol, the CPR, and the PDP hold second place positions, with Ettakatol best-positioned. The seven bureaus report a total of 4295 votes, which is a small fraction of the overall votes. Variation between bureaus means these small totals could be misleading.

In Sidi Bouzid, Thirteen bureaus are listed, with independent list Al Aridha Al Chaabia holding first place in eleven, with majorities of 95%. Ennahda and the Mouvement Populaire took the other two. Again, it is unclear how reliable these results are. They appear to be based in a very small number of voters.

More districts to come…

8:30 am – Radio stations and parties themselves are presenting unofficial results, based on leaks and tallies held by parties themselves during the counting process. It is hard to tell how representative or accurate they are.

Begin October 24th, 2011

For October 23rd coverage, click here.