Tunisia awaits poll results

Tunisia’s main secular opposition party is claiming a big victory in the country’s historic election over the once dominant Islamists.

Partial results from the official election commission are expected to be released throughout the day Oct. 27, but the Nida Tunis (Tunis Calls) party has cited exit polls to say it has won around 80 seats, more than any other party in the 217-member parliament.

The election will produce the nation’s first five-year parliament following the country’s 2011 Arab Spring revolt.

Nida Tunis includes businessmen, trade unionists and many politicians from the deposed dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s government.

It focused its campaign on defeating the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, which governed Tunisia through a turbulent period marked by economic problems and rising extremism.

“We have positive indications that Nidaa Tounes (Call of Tunisia) could be leading,” party leader Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old veteran of Tunisian politics, told reporters.

Analysts predicted no single group would win the outright parliamentary majority needed to govern alone.

Ennahda declined to offer a forecast ahead of the official results but its leader Rachid Ghannouchi put the emphasis on consensus.

“Whoever comes out top, Nidaa or Ennahda, the main thing is that Tunisia needs a government of national unity, a political consensus. This is the policy that has saved the country from what other Arab Spring countries are going through,” he told Hannibal television.

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