Tunisians wave their national flag and chant slogans during a march against extremism outside Tunis' Bardo Museum on March 29, 2015. (Fehti Belaid/AFP/Getty Images)

Tunisia’s Presidency: Ambitions of Candidates and Voters

Al-Etihad, UAE, August 9

To an outside observer of Tunisian politics, the country’s political environment resembles an old film. Some might argue that it is a comedy, others might view it as a horror film, and still some others might view it as a captivating drama. Regardless, the fact remains that that the current political events in Tunis carry with them deep suspense and a great degree of confusion about what is going to happen. The premature presidential elections, which will be held on September 15, will be a difficult test for Tunisians. There are several parties vying for the presidency in the post-Essebsi era. From the outset, we have to realize that there are candidates who have a massive base of voters, who are likely to win the race. The first one is Nabil Al-Qarawi, the media and advertising mogul, who is also the chairman of the private television station “Nesma.” Then there is Abeer Moussa, the leader of the Free Constitutional Party (FPP), who also commands a large constituency, especially among older Tunisians deeply critical of the 2011 Arab Spring revolution and the resulting Qatari-Turkish Muslim Brotherhood alliance. There is also Moncef Marzouki, the former president, who enjoys the support from the revolutionaries and is politically linked to the Brotherhood axis. The fourth candidate, who oversees a large electoral bloc, is Hama Hammami, leader of the Labor Party and a spokesman for the Popular Front Coalition. Finally, we come to Ennahdha Party, which has 100,000 active members and about 400,000 supporters, most of whom are affiliated with the movement’s national and regional chapters. What we have witnessed there is an unprecedented coup against the Party’s Shura Council, which sought to nominate the Ennahdha Party’s founder, Rached Ghannouchi, but ended up nominating Abdelfattah Mourou as its candidate. Finally, yet another candidate up for election is Abdelkrim Zoubidi, the Minister of National Defense, who is supported by the Nidaa Tounes Movement, which believes that a more traditional candidate with experience in government is what Tunisia needs. The upcoming presidential race will also have an impact on the parliamentary elections, which are set to take place in October. Some presidential candidates will undoubtedly use the election campaigns to enahnce their electoral chances in a few months. All of this just adds more confusion into the Tunisian political scene. To those observers who think that the events in Tunisia resemble a movie, it is clear that there are several lead characters at the forefront of the film. The question is: who will progress to become the most prominent star? –Habib al-Aswad

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