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Tunisians go to polls for legislative elections

Tunisians will go to polls on Sunday to vote in legislative elections amid political and economic challenges.

Kais Saied

Last month, contenders from Tunisia’s major political blocs, including the moderate Islamist Ennahda and secular Nida Tounes Party, suffered a shock loss in the presidential vote.

Two political outsiders – independent academic Kais Saied and jailed media mogul Nabil Karoui – are facing off in a presidential run-off scheduled for Oct. 13.

Sunday’s parliamentary polls are seen as a test for established political parties against the backdrop of challenges from nascent parties and independents, according to experts.

“I expect a new-look parliament.

“The parties, which were once in power, including Ennahda, will experience a strong shake.

“In contrast, new powers such as Karoui’s Qalb Tounes Party will ascend,” said political analyst Salaheddine Jourchi.

Jourchi predicted that no bloc would gain an outright majority to form a government on its own, and that there would be “a lot of political horse-trading to form a government”.

Tunisia, the birthplace of the 2011 Arab Spring revolts, has been roiled by social unrest and economic hardships in recent years.

It has been under pressure from international lenders, mainly the International Monetary Fund, to take drastic measures to revamp its economy.

Around 15,000 candidates running on party lists or as independents are vying for seats in the 217-seat parliament. About 7.2 million people are registered to vote.

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