Tunisians are voting today for a Constitutional Assembly, ten months after the fall of President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali. Despite considerable turbulence along the way, including growing political polarization and ongoing economic frustration, the early reports on election day are encouraging. Turnout is high and voters enthusiastic, and thus far there are few signs of any official manipulation or fraud. This is an exciting day for Tunisia and for the whole Arab world. The election results will only set in motion new political struggles over the formation of a government and the contents of a new Constitution, and won't solve the deep economic problems of the country. But they are a promising and essential starting point for the creation of a legitimate, accountable and democratically elected civilian government.
We will have a lot of coverage of the elections results in the coming days. While we wait for the returns, check out recent coverage of Tunisia on Foreign Policy's The Middle East Channel:
-Putting Tunisia's Democracy to the Test, by Erik Churchill
- Tunisia's Test, by Fadil Aliriza
- Tunisia's Surprising New Islamists, by Ellen Knickmeyer
-Divine Election, by Don Duncan
-Don't Tunisians want to vote?, by Erik Churchill
- Suspicion and Strategy in the New Tunisia, by Chris Alexander
- Tunisians agree on more than they realize, by Nathan Brown
- Tunisia's New al-Nahda, by Marc Lynch
- Tunisia's Forgotten Revolutionaries, by Lauren E. Bohn
And for more background, download POMEPS Briefing #1, Tunisia: Protests and Prospects for Change, from January 25, 2011 .
Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University.