Election projections in the United States indicate that Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama has likely secured a second term in office, scoring a victory over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
The most recent statistics from American news outlet CNN project that Obama scored at least the 270 electoral votes necessary to win reelection. The election proved to be close and was not decided until the swing state of Ohio was finally projected to go in Obama’s favor late Tuesday night in the US.
Tunisians weighed in on the potential effects of a second term for Obama.
“Barack Obama suits us better. Mitt Romney has promised us hell in retaliation for the events in front of the U.S. embassy,” said Safa Chihi, a young Tunisian.
“I like Barack Obama because he is young. He respects all people, and he is a black guy. He doesn’t belong to any one group,” said Myriam Lakhoua, a student at the Tunisian Music Conservatory.
Most agree that they prefer Obama to Romney and that foreign policy will be the most important issue for them going forward.
“Both candidates are good for the U.S. but Mitt Romney is more similar to George Bush. I think that both Romney and Bush are interested in more war. If there is a war under Romney, I hope that it is away from us in the Arab world,” said Belgacem, as he was perusing through a downtown bookstore.
“I hope Obama stops supporting moderate Islamists in the Arab world. I want the US out of Arab politics. I want the support of free and fair elections, and nothing else,” added an excited Lakhoua.
According to Ahmed Ounaies, former foreign affairs minister, Obama is seen by many as the first of modern American presidents to truly understand the Arab situation.
“We consider him one of the very rare U.S. presidents of our time, who understands the situation in the Arab world, in Africa, and all over the world. He has the right sensitivity to these areas, particularly in the Arab world.”
Ounaies’ praise for Obama is still tinged with disillusionment. “We were disappointed with his first term but believe that in the second term he will address the issues in the right way.”
Ikbal Messadaa, a Constituent Assembly member from the Congress for the Republic party, said that so far Obama has proven a partner to the Tunisian government.
“So far with Obama, the relationship has been pretty good. He has been very supportive of the revolution and democratic transition. We wish that this continues,” adding that the U.S. has been very active both in guiding the transition to democracy and investing in business to increase economic growth.
“The U.S. so far has been developing programs in support of the transition, training people, and investing in businesses. The U.S. government is working towards investment in Tunisia,” she said, adding that Obama’s support for the revolution has been “clear.”
Both agree that moving forward is important regardless of who wins.
“We would like both parties in Washington to realize that our future is with the Western world. Our roots, our past, our culture are based on Arab and Islamic unity, but our future is with the West,” said Ounaies. He continued to say that he would like to see “deep reforms in Tunisian society while maintaining our cultural and religious traditions.”
“There are still problems like security and unemployment,” said Messadaa. “We have always had only one party, so with different parties, it is difficult to deal with the transition after the revolution. People are demanding a lot from the government, and we are looking for help from the US government.”
She concluded by recalling the recent riots outside of the U.S. embassy in Tunis.
“During the last events at the embassy, every one saw this as a sad event. There are good relations between the US and Tunisia. Tunisians were very upset by these events. Keeping a good relationship with the US is important to Tunisians.”
Myriam Ben Ghazi contributed reporting.