By Allan Bradley | Oct 27 2011Arab Spring ,Aridha Chaabia ,ISIE ,Oct23 ,tnelec ,
12:36 am – Live updates for election coverage are shutting down now that full results have been released. Tunisia Live will continue to report the newest and most important events from Tunisia, so be sure to visit our home page as this crucial moment in Tunisia’s history continues.
The ISIE has left the door open to further invalidations, but the full results of the Constituent Assembly elections, after eliminating six Aridha Chaabia lists, are as follows. Out of 217 seats, Ennahda wins 90 seats, the CPR wins 30 seats, Ettakatol wins 21 seats, Al Aridha Chaabia wins 19 seats, the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) wins 17 seats, and other lists and parties 40 seats.
12:29 am – Sidi Bouzid, where the revolution began, is outraged over the invalidation of Al Aridha Chaabia (Popular Petition) lists in six districts. The Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE) announced in press conference earlier this evening that the ISIE has rejected Aridha lists in Sidi Bouzid, Tataouine, Sfax 1, Jendouba, Kasserine, and France II. This amounts to an eight-seat* loss for Aridha Chaabia in the Constituent Assembly. (*Originally, this post incorrectly reported a nine-seat loss.)
Protesters have responded violently in Sidi Bouzid, setting fires in both Ennahda headquarters and the mayor’s office. We are also hearing reports of protests in poor districts of Sfax.
Aridha leader Mohamed Hachimi Hamidi announced on Express FM radio that he would withdraw his remaining lists in response to the invalidation of some of his lists.
It is now considered common knowledge by many in Tunis that Aridha Chaabia was organized by members of the former ruling party, the RCD. There is little hard evidence for the claim, and even if true, it fails to adequately explain how Aridha Chaabia could receive several hundred thousand votes without any media noticing their campaign.
We have written today about the electoral appeal of Aridha and its founder, Mohamed Hachimi Hamidi, in terms of populism and religion. Their ability to win so many seats despite being completely unknown in Tunis could demonstrate the deep divide between the elite and the marginalized of Tunisia. But the story is becoming more complicated by the hour.
ISIE’s decision to summarily dismiss Aridha Chaabia lists will be seen as political manipulation by Aridha supporters. Sidi Bouzid is the town that sparked the Arab Spring and the district that gave Aridha more seats than Ennahda before the list was invalidated. Tomorrow will tell whether tonight’s protests are a flash in the night or the start of a new revolution.
11:55 pm – Our results tables are updated by district, but the national chart is missing some smaller parties.
11:40 pm – Protesters targeted both Ennahda headquarters and the mayor’s office in Sidi Bouzid, according to Tunisia Live sources in Sidi Bouzid. Violent clashes are now ongoing between police and protesters.
11:38 pm – Protesters targeted Ennahda headquarters after the disqualification of Aridha Chaabia’s lists, according to Tunisia Live sources in Sidi Bouzid who claim to be eyewitnesses.
11:35 pm – Tunisia Live sources in Sidi Bouzid say that they have witnessed protesters clashing with police, prompting violence and tear gas.
11:28 pm – Hachimi Hamidi, leader of Aridha Chaabia party, announced on Express FM radio that he is withdrawing all of his lists in response to the decision by the ISIE to invalidate Aridha Chaabia lists in 6 districts.
We are hearing reports from radio and sources on the ground in Sidi Bouzid that protesters have set fire to a building.
Outside the media center in Tunis, over twenty cars are driving back and forth in front of the ISIE media center, waving Tunisian and Ennahda flags and honking their horns in celebration.
Still working on those results tables.
10:07 pm – Overall results, provided by the ISIE: Ennahda wins 90 seats, CPR wins 30 seats, Ettakatol wins 21 seats, Al Aridha Chaabia wins 19 seats, the PDP wins 17 seats, and other lists and parties 40 seats.
10:02 pm ISIE President Kamel Jendoubi notes, among other statistics, that Ennahda won about 41% of seats in the Constituent Assembly. Overall, 24% of Constituent Assembly will be women.
9:57 pm – The ISIE members have finished releasing results for all districts, including the changes based on the disqualification of Aridha Chaabia lists. Ennahda was the major beneficiary of lists taken from Aridha Chaabia.
These results will take a while to update i our results tables. Bear with us.
9:20 pm – Aridha Chaabia (Popular Petition) lists are disqualified in Tataouine, Sfax I, Jendouba, Kasserine, Sidi Bouzid, and France II.
9:15 pm – The Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE) has decided to eliminate the lists of Aridha Chaabia in Tataouine. Wild applause turns into the national anthem despite the ISIE member’s request to finish reading his list of disqualified lists.
9:05 pm – Starting now. Our prediction was wrong by half an hour.
8:10 pm – Waiting for the 8pm press conference to begin, and journalists have begun friendly arguments on how late this one will start. Tunisia Live predicts 8:35pm.
For the journalists and observers who have stuck around after some of the novelty of the election has worn off, ISIE members are distributing swag in the front lobby. A revolutionary rap song in French and Arabic is playing on repeat in the conference room.
8:02 pm – The learning curve will be steep for politicians in Tunis, and reflections have already begun. Mostapha Sadak Al Mnif, secretary-general of the Liberal Maghreb Party, reflects that the results are a learning opportunity. He tells Tunisia Live, “All parties are invited to revize themselves and learn from their mistakes, and to make their political discourse more convincing and plausible.” The Liberal Maghreb Party has won only one seat nationally, in Ariana.
Khair Edine Swamni, official spokesperson of the Ataliaa (“Pioneer”) Party makes an interesting comparison to highlight Ennahda’s savvy campaign: Both the Free Patriotic Union (UPL) of Slim Riahi and Ennahda had money. Indeed, a massive publicity campaign put UPL posters all over city streets before advertising was banned. But only Ennahda achieved great success in the elections. Edine Swamni says Ennahda was better about convincing voters that they generally cared for citizens and were not just interested in buying votes.
6:49 pm - A Tunisia Live reporter in Sidi Bouzid reports that a demonstration took place earlier today. About 1,000 people turned out to protest comments by Ennahda Secretary-General Hammadi Jebali in an interview on Hannibal TV. They say the presumed prime minister made belittling comments about people from Sidi Bouzid, calling them ignorant and lower-class. Protesters distributed pamphlets calling for a general strike tomorrow.
Residents said they support the leader of Aridha Chaabia, Mohamed El Hachimi Hamidi, because he is one of them.
6:32 pm – Press center beginning to fill up again. The ISIE still maintains that they will release full preliminary results at an 8pm press conference. Looking ahead, we already have 192 of 217 seats assigned, so the overall trends should not change. Watch out for Tunis II, though, where the PDP needs to win a seat for Ahmed Nejib Chebbi to join the Constituent Assembly.
Prominent lawyer and independent candidate Abdelfattah Mourou also needs to win a seat in Tunis II if he hopes to join the Assembly.
5:28 pm – Tunisians have largely returned to work, with the election behind them. The streets are calm and seem to have moved past politics, though the name “Ennahda” still jumps out from overheard lunch conversations in cafes and restaurants.
Rumors are flying on the Internet, especially regarding surprise third-place winner Aridha Chaabia. Some say the list bought votes with expensive favors; others claim that party leaders and followers alike are affiliated with the old regime. Aridha Chaabia is an unknown and could be a potent political challenge to the social classes that have never heard its name. We wonder if allegations about Aridha will district from allegations against Ennahda.
5:15 pm – The parties that, during the campaign, promised not to form coalitions with Ennahda, have announced that they will not form coalitions with Ennahda. Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, leader of the Progressive Democratic Movement had already announced that his party would be in the opposition. So far, the other parties to join the PDP in rejecting alliance with Ennahda are the Democratic Modernist Pole (PDM), Afek Tounes, and the Free Patriotic Union.
4:18 pm – We are hearing that domestic election observers are more hesitant to declare this election a success than foreign observers. The ATIDE organization, a Tunisian NGO, delayed today’s press conference to tomorrow, saying that they have observed practices that could result in the invalidation of certain lists. They want to review their information before giving such a controversial announcement.
3:53 pm – The TAP state news agency has released results for Kef: Ennahda wins 2 seats, Aridha Chaabia 1 seat, independent list “Hope” 1 seat, CPR 1 seat, Ettakatol 1 seat. Our results tables are updated. With 192 seats reported out of the 217 total seats in the Constituent Assembly, Ennahda leads with 78 seats, the CPR has 26 seats, Aridha Chaabia has 25 seats, Ettakatol has 18 seats, and the PDP has 10 seats.
3:38 pm – For those who have not already heard, the Tunis Court of Appeals decided to release the former Libyan Prime Minister today. The ruling overturns a previous decision to imprison Baghdadi Mahmoudi for six months for entering Tunisia illegally. The Tunisian Ministry of Justice says that he is free to move within Tunisia but he is barred from leaving the country as authorities discuss an extradition to Libya.
3:12 pm – The ISIE says that they will release the remaining districts at a press conference at 8pm tonight. They probably will. Throughout the last few days, the ISIE has stressed that these results are “preliminary” because they will take some time to review objections and appeals. We expect legal challenges to Ennahda’s success, but the major question is whether the ISIE will invalidate Aridha Chaabia seats, and if so, how many.
2:35 pm – The ISIE press conference started on time. ISIE members announced results from Beja, Ben Arous, Ariana, Bizerte, and Nabeul II. Three of these were already announced on the TAP state news agency, but we now have results from Ben Arous: Ennahda wins 4 seats, Ettakatol 2 seats, CPR 1 seat, PDP 1 seat, PDM 1 seat, “Nation Social Party” 1 seat.
They also announced Bizerte: Ennahda 4 seats, Ettakatol 1 seat, CPR 1 seat, Aridha Chaabia 1 seat, People’s Party 1 seat, PDP 1 seat. Our results tables are updated.
1:15 pm – Break in the updates for a sandwich and a cab ride; it is time to head to the ISIE media center for their 2pm press conference.
1:13 pm – The TAP state news agency has confirmed the results from Ariana. Our results tables are updated. Out of 167 seats assigned, Ennahda has 68, the CPR has 23, Aridha Chaabia has 23, Ettakatol has 14, and the PDP has 8.
We can probably expect the PDP to stage a very small resurgence in the Tunis area, where their base is strongest. They have no chance of moving past Ettakatol. The Democratic Modernist Pole (PDM) may also pick up a few more seats from the last districts, as they are well known in greater Tunis.
12:44 pm – Tunisia Live editor Emily Parker analyzes the reasons behind Aridha Chaabia’s unexpected electoral success. She breaks it down into populism, regionalism, appeals to religion, and a “rhetoric of victimhood.”
The decision of whether or not to invalidate Aridha Chaabia lists, and how many lists to invalidate, is a high-stakes decision for ISIE. On the one hand, Aridha has apparently violated clear electoral laws by advertising during the electoral campaign. On the other hand, the voting process was clear and transparent, and it is difficult to justify the nullification of a party after so many voters have cast a ballot in favor.
12:04 pm – ISIE has scheduled another press conference for 2pm today. The press release says “partial” results, just like previous releases, so 2pm may be another disappointment for anyone looking for the last remaining lists.
11:55 am – A Tunisia Live source has given us results of the count in Ariana: Ennahda wins 3 seats, the CPR wins 1 seat, Ettakatol 1 seat, the PDM 1 seat, the PDP 1 seat, and the Liberal Maghrebin Party (PLM) wins 1 seat. We will not update our results tables with this news until we see these numbers confirmed by a source from ISIE or an ISIE regional instance.
11:46 am – In the Tunisian newspapers this morning, coverage continues to digest the surprises of the election results. Besides just looking at the “big three” of Ennahda, CPR, and Ettakatol, many papers are opening questions about center-left and secular parties that underperformed, such as the Democratic Modernist Pole (PDM) and the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).
The few headlines about Aridha Chaabia, the unknown list currently in second place behind Ennahda, discuss the various legal challenges facing the list. La Presse‘s headline sums up the political response to the unexpected result: “Aridha Chaabia in the crosshairs.” As we discussed in yesterday’s live updates, the party may be facing sanctions by the ISIE, including the nullification of some lists. The law is fuzzy and the legal debates could be protracted.
Perhaps because of this sense that Aridha Chaabia’s success will somehow prove invalid, Tunisian print media has not begun to grapple seriously with the implications of Aridha Chaabia’s victory.
Aridha Chaabia and Ennahda together appear on track to win a majority in the Constituent Assembly. Party leader Hachmi Hamdi uses religious rhetoric in his political speeches, at least as much as Ennahda, so it is possible that Islamists (or “Islamic parties,” as Ennahda prefers to be called) will hold a majority after all. There is not yet any reason to expect Ennahda to ally with Aridha Chaabia, but it may be reasonable to say that Islamic parties won a majority in the Constituent Assembly after all.
But the entire line of thinking that focuses exclusively on how many seats Islamic parties receive compared to the familiar center-leftist parties is now obsolete, or at least hopelessly narrow. Many Aridha Chaabia supporters contacted by Tunisia Live over the past twenty-four hours say they voted for Aridha Chaabia simply because party leader Hachmi Hamdi is from Sidi Bouzid. Interior and southern regions of Tunisia were marginalized under Ben Ali, and even the post-Ben Ali political elite is largely coastal. Hachmi Hamdi speaks with a southern accent, and through his TV channel, he spoke directly to those Tunisians who feel they have never been part of the political conversation, before or after January 14th. The democratic process revealed a popular voice that the coastal media never noticed.
We are still just beginning to learn the reasons for Aridha Chaabia’s support. The easy division between coastal and interior regions is doubtless oversimplified. Allegations of Hachmi Hamdi’s ties to the old regime and improper campaign financing still need investigating. But even if Aridha Chaabia lists are invalidated by the ISIE, Aridha Chaabia has redrawn the Tunisian political map.
10:33 am – The TAP state news agency has published no new results overnight, so in the tally so far we stand where we were late last night: With 26 out of 33 districts reporting, comprising 159 seats out of 217, Ennahda leads with 65 seats, Aridha Chaabia (Popular Petition) is in second with 23 seats, the CPR has 22 seats, Ettakatol has 13 seats, Al Moubadara (Initiative) has 5 seats, Afek Tounes has 4 seats, the PDM has 3 seats, the PCOT (Communist) has 3 seats, and no other party or independent list has more than 1 seat.
We have been told that the provisional results for Italy have been revized, taking one seat from Ennahda and awarding it to Aridha Chaabia, but we are still trying to confirm this news.
Once again the day starts slowly, as Tunisians have returned to work and offical results will not begin arriving until the afternoon at the earliest.
9:47 pm – Good morning, and welcome to Tunisia Live’s fifth day of live updates on the Tunisian Constituent Assembly Elections. Full results have still not been released by the Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE), but we are optimistic that the remaining seven districts will be released this afternoon or evening.
Last night an official in the ISIE media center told Tunisia Live that the ISIE was hoping to release final results in a 2pm press conference today. We expect this press conference to be delayed and then start late, but it does seem likely that today will finally be the day for a full tally from ISIE.
Begin October 27th.
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For October 23rd live updates, click here.