? Moderate Islamist party tipped for historic win
? Main secular party concedes it will be in opposition
? World praises peaceful vote as example for region
? Read the latest summary here

10.36pm: We’ve reached the end of Tunisia’s E-Day+1, and will leave you with this summary of the key developments:

? With counting still underway for Tunisia’s domestic constituencies, results from overseas voting points towards a strong showing by the Islamist party An-Nahda. Rachid Ghannouchi’s once-banned grouping won half of the seats available abroad. (See 7.09pm.) The ISIE election body said the results were still “partial” because polling station reports listing objections to the voting process had not yet been received. An-Nahda also said it had taken the biggest share of the domestic vote based on early predictions before the official results expected.

? It has been a day of mixed fortunes for Tunisia’s secular parties. The PDP party which, just days ago, was tipped to win the second biggest number of votes, admitted it would be in opposition. (See 3.41pm.) Moncef Marzouki’s CPR won four of the overseas seats, while the centre-left secularist Ettakatol party, which won three of them, is forecast to win 15-20% of the vote.

? An-Nahda is expected to form an alliance with Ettakatol, either on its own or with the CPR. After a celebratory press conference in which supporters sang the national anthem and chanted “God is great!”, an An-Nahda spokesman said the party would “spare no effort to create a stable political alliance.” (See 9.35pm.)

10.18pm: A brief follow-up to our earlier report (see 4.40pm) that Hachmi Hamdi, a satellite TV owner based in London, is thought to be performing unexpectedly well at the polls. (Indeed, since then it has been confirmed that, according to partial results, his party has won one of the five seats going in southern France.)

Hamdi has been something of a fixture on the fringes of the Tunisian political landscape since the 1980s, when he mixed in Islamist circles and fled the country when Ben Ali- whom he had strongly criticised- cracked down. He has strong links with Britain, having studied at SOAS and set up both a newspaper and a satellite television station, Al Mustakillah, there. He is known, said Mourad Tayeb, a Tunisian journalist who has met him, as:

The type who likes to talk and give interviews and to address his fans on his own TV network…[Standing for election was] not his first surprise or joke.

Now, however, his party looks set to be a force in Tunisian politics- though how much influence he or it will actually have remains to be seen. He could yet face legal challenges to his candidacy due to the campaigning he carried out via his own television station.

The prospect of his political breakthrough appears to have left many Tunisians aghast. They question his attitude towards Ben Ali during the final years of the regime, and accuse him of winning votes by promising things he could not possibly deliver. They also raise the issue of his foreign residency.

But Hamdi himself remains undeterred. In this interview on Tunisian radio (in Arabic) he said he wanted the electorate to give him 110 seats in the 217-seat constituent assembly.

Congratulating the An-Nahda party on their expected victory, he defended his own ambitious plan for reinvigorating Tunisia. He would offer unemployment benefits, free transport for the over-60s and better access to health care, he said. Asked whether he was, in effect, looking to be appointed a kind of temporary president, he insisted:

There is a huge number of people who believe in this programme.

10.00pm: A Newsnight-style look at tomorrow’s front pages, then.

Libération, the left-wing French paper, has annoyed some Tunisians by running as its front page headline “La Tunisie passe au vert – victoire des islamistes”; Tunisia’s gone green – victory for the Islamists. The paper has a special guest in Marjane Satrapi, the French-Iranian whose film Persepolis caused demonstrations outside a Tunisian TV station when it was shown here.

Le Figaro takes a similar line: Tunisia; Islamists holding all the cards.

9.35pm: Reuters is reporting that An-Nahda have made a point of saying that they will form a coalition with two secular parties, and that investors need not be alarmed at the success of an Islamist party in these elections.

“We will spare no effort to create a stable political alliance … We reassure the investors and international economic partners,” said Abdelhamid Jlazzi, an An-Nahda campaign manager.

Jlazzi said An-Nahda was prepared to enter a coalition with the CPR (Congress for the Republic), the centrist party of Moncef Marzouki, and Ettakatol, a centre-left party.

8.20pm: Shehani Fernando went to An-Nahda headquarters and spoke to Intissar Ghannouchi, the daughter of party leader Rachid, about the mood as the party looked set to be the biggest in the Constituent Assembly.


7.56pm: My colleague Angelique Chrisafis has been looking at the predicted successes of An-Nahda in a report for the Guardian. Rachid Ghannouchi’s party compares itself to Turkey’s Islamist-rooted ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) ? liberal and socially conservative, she writes.

The party has run a campaign promising an antidote to the western notion of a clash of civilisations with a moderate, pro-democracy stance that sought to allay secularist fears by vowing to respect Tunisia’s unique status as a civil society with a strong secular tradition and the most advanced women’s rights in the Arab world.

Said Ferjani of An-Nahda’s political bureau said: “We have to be careful about figures until the official results, but there’s a consensus that we’re around the 40% mark. It’s something that frankly we were expecting.”

“We already have our ideas about the government. We are not dogmatic, we are highly pragmatic. It will be a broad national unity government for sure. The new reality is that we have to do what we do for the Tunisian people, we go beyond old lines of argument or disagreement.”

7.09pm: The ISIE have just announced what they called “partial results” from the overseas polling stations. However, it is uncertain how subject to change these are: Ridha Torkani said their partial status was because the authorities had not yet received the reports of objections and irregularities.

So, here we go: In Italy, one seat went to the left-wing Ettakatol and two seats to the Islamists An-Nahda.

In France south, where five seats were being contested, An-Nahda won two of them, the Congres pour la République won one, Ettakatol won one, and one to a lesser-known party, Ridha Chaabia.

In France north, where 92,000 people cast their votes, An-Nahda won two seats, the CPR one, Ettakatol one and the Pole Démocratique Moderniste one.

In Germany, An-Nahda won the only seat.

In North America and remaining European countries, An-Nahda won one seat and the CPR the other.

And in the remaining Arab countries, Africa, Asia and Australia, An-Nahda won one seat and the CPR the other.

So, that’s 9 of the 18 overseas seats gone to An-Nahda- barring, of course, any big changes due to objections. ISIE did stress the results were “still partial”.

Four to the CPR of Moncef Marzouki (he of the spectacles and Lib Dem-esque logo.)

Three to the social democrats Ettakatol. None for the PDP, the party which just days ago was still tipped to come second in the overall poll. Still, it’s early days.

5.55pm: Some of the 14,000 national and international observers have been giving their verdict on the election. Swiss parliamentarian Andreas Gross, the head of the observer delegation from the Council of Europe, is quoted by AP as saying:

There is no way of arguing the legitimacy of the outcome, absolutely not, even if there is disappointment. We call on the principal political actors to recognize the results of the elections and to quickly begin the work of the National Constituent Assembly.

The National Democratic Institute, which fielded 47 accredited observers from 15 countries, has said it considered the vote to be “an extraordinary achievement”.

It noted that “political parties and candidates from across the spectrum largely expressed confidence in the independent election commission’s ability to organize an inclusive and credible election.” And it said that polling stations had been manned by trained staff and organised according to “adequate procedures”.

However, it said that that the “flood of voters” had led to “some administrative shortcomings”.

Voters who missed the Aug. 14 registration deadline were told that they could vote at one of more than 900 special polling centers set up around the country. Many of the special centers were not prepared for the influx of voters and an SMS system created to tell unregistered voters where to vote crashed early in the day but was restored later.

5.44pm: And now an afternoon summary in Arabic:

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???? “????? ?????????? ???????” ?????? ??????? ???????? ,?????24 , ??? ?? ???? ???? ???? ?? ?????????? . ? ?? ???? “??? ???????” ??????? ?????? ????? :” ?????? ???? ?????. ????? ?????????? ??????? ?? ???? ???? ????.??? ?????? ????? ???????. ? ??? ????? ???? ??????. ??? ???? ????? ????? ????? ??? ???? ????? ???????.”

????? ???????? ??? ??? ????? ??? ??????,??? ??? ???????? ???? ?? ????? ????. ? ?? ?????? ????? ???????? ?????? ??? ??????? , ??? ?????? ?????? ?????????? ????? ??? ??????? ???????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ????? ??? ??? ????? ? ?? ??????? ?? ???? ???. ? ?? ??? ??? ?????????? ?? ???? ????? ?????? ???????? ???? ?????? ???? ????? ????? ???? .

? ??? ????? ?? ?? ??????? ????????? ?? ???? ?? ???? ??? ????? ? ????? ? ?????? ? ??? ????? ? ?? ?????, ??? ???? ???? ??? ??? ???? ????? ???????? ?????? ???? ??? ?????? ?? ??? “?? ???” ,? ????? “???? ???????”. ? ???? ???? ?????? ??? “??????” ????? ??????? ??? ?????? ?? ??????????.

? ???? ?????? ????????? ???????? ??? ????? , ??? ?? ??????? ?? ???? ????? ????. ??? ???? ?????? ?????????? ??????? ??? 90 % ?? ??? 4.1 ????? ???? ???? ?? ???? ???????? ????. ??? ??? ??? ?? ???? ??? ???? ???? ???????? ?? ??? 3.1 ????? ???? ??? ???? , ? ?? ??????? ???? ????? ???????? ????, ??? ?????? ????? ????????. ? ?? ??? ??? ???????? ?? ????? ????? ??????? ???????? ?? ???? ?? ????? ????? ???? ?????? ???????.
? ?? ????? ?????, ????? ?????????? ?????? ? ???? ?????? ???? ???????? ??? ????? ?????? ???????? ??????? ??? ???????? ??????? ??? ???? ? ????????? ???????, ?????? ??????? ?????????. ??? ????? ???? ??????? ?? ??? “????? ??????” ? “??? ?? ???” ??? ????? ?????? ??????? ? ?????????? ???? ???? ?????? ??????.

5.25pm: An-Nahda are holding a press conference at their headquarters declaring themselves to be the party with the biggest number of votes, according to the preliminary results. They have said that they got the votes of 50% of Tunisians abroad.

An Al-Jazeera journalist there, @nazaninemoshiri, reports that they are “already acting like a party in power”. People are singing the national anthem, she adds, and chanting “God is great.”

4.40pm: The ISIE press conference has been delayed by two hours- testament perhaps to the long, slow process of counting the votes.

In the meantime, let’s touch on an issue that appears to be leaving many Tunisian voters bewildered: the apparent potential for an electoral bonanza for Hamdi Hachimi

According to the partial results coming through on Mosaique FM- and, again, these are unofficial and unconfirmed- his Al Aridha Al Chaabia party is performing well at the polls in the town of Sidi Bouzid- Mohamed Bouazizi’s home.

Now, this may not mean a lot to those who haven’t been following the ins and outs of Tunisian politics since the revolution, but it is certainly having an effect on the twitt-and-blogosphere:

See HendTunis’s remarks below the line:

This is their way to punish the other parties who couldn’t give them an alternative vision maybe.

HendTunis is not the only Tunisian to be less-than-thrilled by this particular quirk of democracy. Social networker Maher Ben Salah captions this photo “the Hamdi Hachimi effect on the electoral commission of Sidi Bouzid”.

And a post by user @daddou_doc has been re-tweeted dozens of times:

President Obama congratulates Tunisian People on Election. Mr Obama…do you know hachimi hamdi?? :'(( #tnelec

3.41pm: The centrist, secularist PDP (Democratic progressive party) have conceded to the AFP press agency that they did badly in the elections, as France 24 reports here.

Maya Jribi, the party’s secretary general, told AFP:

The trend is very clear. The PDP has done badly. It was the choice of the Tunisian people, and I bow to their decision. I congratulate those who have won the approval of the Tunisian people.”

3.21pm: This is Sean Clarke again. Lizzy’s gone to ISIE, the electoral commission, to hear what the electoral observers have to say about how things have gone. We should have her report shortly.

In the meantime, my colleagues Shehani Fernando and Mona Mahmood have published this video of Tunisians yesterday casting their first free votes:


1.45pm: Apologies for the delay: connectivity issues here. Here’s a belated lunchtime summary:

? Counting is underway across Tunisia after the first free election in its history. Polling stations have been hard at it since last night, but the electoral commission ISIE said final results were not expected until this afternoon at the earliest and would probably be announced tomorrow. The election will allocate seats in a new assembly, whose one-year mission it will be to draw up a new constitution.

? Despite the uncertainty of the results, initial, unconfirmed and unofficial indicators point to a sizeable victory by the Islamist An-Nahda party, which was banned and brutally repressed under the Ben Ali regime. Its leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, espouses a moderate form political Islam and has said his party does not harbour extremists. But the prospect of a big An-Nahda win has nonetheless alarmed many secularists. (See 10.05am.)

? The total turn-out for the election remains unclear, but it is expected to be high. ISIE said last night that 90% of some 4.1 million registered voters had indeed voted. But, as there are no figures yet for the 3.1 million others who did not register but could still vote, a total is not known. One analyst has argued that finding out the number of voters is more significant than knowing for whom they voted. (See 12.05pm.)

? France- the former colonial power whose foreign minister at the time of the revolution resigned over her links with the old regime- has pledged its support for the Tunisians. (See 1.06pm.) Plaudits for the largely peaceful and proper way in which the election was held have also come in from Barack Obama, David Cameron and Ban Ki-moon.

1.06pm: Amid all the international plaudits (from the White House, Downing Street et al) it was starting to look rather odd that France, the former colonial power, had stayed quiet. But here’s an extract from a statement by foreign minister Alain Juppé:

France welcomes the smooth progress of the first free elections in Tunisia, whose revolution opened the way to the ‘Arab Spring’. Tunisia is thus confirming its pioneering role.

Juppé, who was appointed in February after his predecessor quit over her links to the Ben Ali regime (she initially offered to help the president quell the protests, among other things), added:

Ever a partner of Tunisia, France is at its sides more than ever during these days of legitimate national pride.

12.59pm: And now a short summary in Arabic.

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* ????? ???????? ??? ??? ?????? ??? ??? ??? ???????? ???? ???. ? ??? ????? ?? ?? ????? ?????? ??????? ?? ?????? ??? ???? ??????? ??? ?????? ?????? ?????????? ????? ???? ?? ???? ??????? ?? ??????? ??? ???? ????? ??? ?? ???? ??????? ???????? ???. ? ???? ???? ????? ????? ?? ???????.

* ??? ?????? ?????? ?? ????? ? ?????, ?? ??????? ?? ???? ???? ??????? ?????. ??? ???? ???? ?????????? ??? 90 % ?? ???????? ????????( 4 ??????) ?? ????? ????. ??? ?? ???? 3 ????? ????? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ??????? ???? ????? ????????, ???? ?? ???? ????? ??? ???? ??????? ????????.

* ??? ???????? ? ????? ??? ??????? ?? ???? ??? ???????? ??? ??????? ??????? ?? ???? ????? ?? ??????? ???. ? ?? ???? ????? ??????? ?? ?? “??????” ?? ???? ?? ???? ??????? ?????????? ????? ??? ?? ???????. ? ?? ????? ???? ?????? ?????? ???? ????? ?? ????? ???????? ?? ???? ?? ????? ?? ???? ????? ???????? ?? ?????? ?? ?????? ??????? ?????????? “??????? ?? ??? ????????? “?” ?????? ” ????????? ??????? ? ???????. ??? ?? ??? ?? ??? ??????.

* ??? ???? ?????? ?????? ?? ?????? ?????? ??? ????? ?????? ?????. ??? ??? “????? ???????” ?? ??????? ??? ” ?????” ? ” ?????? ??????” . ? ?? ????? ?????? ??????? ????? ????? ??????? ??? “????? ??????” ?? ?????????? ” ???? ???? ??? ??????”. ? ?? ?????? ??? ?? ?? ?????? ???????? ? ????? ??????? ???? ??????? ?????????? ?? ????.

12.29pm: Tunisia’s 2.7 million Facebook users were hard at work yesterday, reporting irregularities, posting pictures of their inky fingers, and- mischievously- photoshopping photos of Ben Ali and his loathed wife, Leila Trabelsi.

La Presse reports that this photo was accompanied by the caption: “The bluer our fingers, the bluer their faces.” (Though in English we would probably say ‘greener’.)

Acccording to social media statisticians, there are 2,738,180 Facebook users in the country of the Jasmine revolution- and they played their part, of course, during the protests in January.

Yesterday, users posted claims of attempts at vote buying and parties bussing in voters on their walls, La Presse reports. They also passed around this satirical portrait of the average Tunisian and his political flexibility. (Remember, there are more than 100 parties in Tunisia now, and they’ve come to signify very different things.)

The Tunisian is a revolutionary on Facebook, but when he is with the family of his wife or his fiancée he’s with An-Nahda. When he’s with his girlfriend he becomes a supporter of the Communist party; when he’s after some cash he gets behind the UPL…when he’s hungry he leans towards the PDP; when he wants to party he’s with Afek; when he’s spoiling for a fight he transforms into an Etttakatol member.

12.05pm: Larbi Sadiki of the University of Exeter, who has been in Tunisia not only for his home country’s election but also to take some of his students on some hands-on democratisation classes, has written an interesting piece of analysis for Al-Jazeera English.

In it, he argues that “the importance of the poll in Tunisia is not which party wins the popular vote for the constituent assembly. The true significance will be whether Tunisia votes, and “which” Tunisia votes for which party or list.”

Voter turnout will be the most important figure to watch for. Obviously, it will be the key indicator of the level of public endorsement for this transition itinerary, begun by Khayr al-Din, a former Tunisian prime minister, in the 1850s.

It is the only majority that matters in this vote. Abstention or low voter turnout by the excluded and the people of the country’s south and the centre may not bode well for democratic transition. This silent majority, disenfranchised since independence in 1956, rebelled against the entire political system in 2011. Its absence may mean it is not ready to surrender the revolution to formal political processes. By contrast, high voter turnout would convey exactly the opposite meaning.

Sadiki adds that the results from the Tunis two district will be worth keeping a close eye on.

This district is known as the “iron district”, and others have dubbed it the “death district”. Six prominent candidates….contest from this district. How Tunisians vote in this district will be a microcosm of the polity that will emerge after the elections.

11.28am: This morning’s Tunisian papers leave no doubt as to the pride the country’s people feel at their first free elections. “Maturity confirmed,” headlines Tunis Hebdo beside a photo of a long line of people watiing to vote. “Whoever the winners are,” it remarks, “the biggest victory is already clear: that of Tunisia as a whole.”

But, as stunning as the scenes of yesterday’s democratic debut were, the papers are not purely retrospective. Looking ahead to the crucial phase to come, La Presse reserves judgment on the election:

This success will only be complete once the results have been declared and the verdict of the ballot box has been accepted by everyone…That means that those who are not elected congratulate those who are and above all that they don’t consider their unsuccessful first experience as a personal failure but as a victory for the whole of Tunisia, and all its political strands.

In a similarly circumspect vein, the Arabic-language Al Mosawwer (The Photographer) asks:

People succeeded in the voting. Will the elite succeed in the writing of the constitution?

10.44am: Sean Clarke here, with an update on what we know about how the poll has been conducted so far. As Lizzy reported last night, ISIE, the electoral commission accepted that there had been “soft intimidation” of voters in some areas.

ISIE organised a map of reported irregularities, and encouraged citizens to submit reports by SMS. The results are interesting:

These two screengrabs show, on the left, the number of reports of infractions relating to publicity, chiefly sticking posters up in unauthorised locations. On the right is the number of reports of “verbal or physical violence”. (There is a broader “violence” category, but most of its reports relate to “tearing down of posters”.)

We are expecting national and international observers to report later today on how they think the polls were conducted.

10.05am: A lot of the speculation appears to be coming from partial and unconfirmed results being recorded on the website of Tunisian radio Mosaique FM.

Be aware that these figures – as Mosaique make clear – are “approximate” and not the official results, to be announced by ISIE. But they are already sparking interesting debate as they appear to show the Islamist An-Nahda party in poll position in many constituencies.

Among the many supporters of the party, which was banned under Ben Ali and whose leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, spent two decades in exile, the predictions are likely to spark delight.

But on social networks there is alarm among those who criticise the party and are fearful that it could shed its moderate image once in power. One Twitter user, @PaNoAlMi, has posted:

I keenly await the day when I will be able to say with schadenfreude to those who voted An-Nahda: ‘You deserve this- we warned you.’

Others are more stoic. Responding to some of the more extreme comments, user @MACTUNISIANO has written:

Not good to wish the death of even your worst enemy. They have their place in a Tunisian democracy: that is DEMOCRACY.

And @Mo7sen2 commented:

‘Democracy only works if it is accepted and shared by bad losers’: Proverb.

9.27am: Good morning. It’s the morning after an historic night before and Tunis is a city abuzz with rumour and speculation. Here’s a brief summary:

? Counting is underway across Tunisia after the first free election in its history. Although workers began manually totting up the votes last night, the electoral commission ISIE said final results were not expected until this afternoon at the earliest and would probably be announced tomorrow. There are two different stages of counting.

? After queues stretched through streets in towns and villages across the country, turn-out is thought to have been high. ISIE said last night that 90% of some 4.1 million registered voters had indeed voted. But, as there are no figures yet for the 3.1 million others who did not register but could still vote, a total is not known.

? Projections and unofficial figures are circulating on the internet, but official results are still a long way off. An-Nahda, the Islamist party tipped to win the biggest share of the vote, said last night it was in the lead in overseas constituencies. Overnight, Tunisian radio reported that preliminary results in two big provincial cities had An-Nahda in the lead, with secularist parties CPR and Ettakatol in second place. None of this could be independently confirmed.

? The first election to have blossomed from the Arab Spring has attracted praise world-wide. David Cameron said the vote was “inspiring” and a “remarkable achievement”, while Barack Obama last night issued a statement congratulating the Tunisian people on their “important step forward”. The EU and the UN also praised the elections.


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