Update on Tunisia: Successful Elections
Rep. Price leading an election monitoring mission in November.
It has been four years since the beginning of the Arab Spring. Unfortunately, many of our greatest hopes for positive change in the Middle East have not come to pass, with deep divisions and repression in Egypt and a brutal civil war in Syria.
The Arab Spring has seen its greatest success in Tunisia, despite – or perhaps because of – the relative lack of attention that country has received in the international media. The Tunisian people have written a new, inclusive constitution and elected a parliament, and they stand poised to choose a President in a free and fair election on December 21.
I was in Tunisia last month as an international observer for the first round of presidential voting. The Tunisian people went to the polls proudly and peacefully, with strong turnout and minimal reports of voting irregularities. All indications suggest that the runoff on Sunday will be another success. That is remarkable progress for a country that has spent most of its modern existence under an authoritarian regime.
But the real challenge begins next year. Whoever wins the runoff has a responsibility and an opportunity to work with the newly elected Parliament to quickly build a transparent and fair government that actually works for Tunisia. Democratic ideals simply cannot take root without effective governance.
Regardless of the outcome later this month, the international community should celebrate the progress made by the Tunisian people and stand beside their first democratically-elected leaders as they begin the difficult process of building a brighter future.