Date: Oct 7, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Tunisian election gives few clues to shape of next government
TUNIS: Tunisia faced political deadlock Monday after Sunday's election delivered a fragmented parliament and no obvious path to forming a government that must urgently address chronic economic and fiscal problems.

Sunday's exit polls showed the moderate Islamist Ennahda as the largest party, but its modest projected vote share means it would need to bring many other parties into any workable coalition. Official results are not expected until Tuesday.

"The task will be very difficult and complicated to reach an agreement to form a government," said Yamina Zoglami, a senior Ennahda official.

Several of Ennahda's rivals have already said they will not join a government it leads, and Tunisians are confronting the prospect of protracted negotiations and the possibility of another election if no coalition can be agreed.

The parliamentary vote comes amid a separate presidential election in which one of the two candidates who advanced to next Sunday's runoff vote is being held in detention on corruption charges, entailing a possible challenge to that result.

Eight years after ending autocratic rule, many Tunisians are disillusioned by the failure of repeated coalition governments to address economic problems and their rejection of major parties threatens a new period of upheaval.

If official results confirm Ennahda's first place, it has two months to form a coalition. After that the president can ask a politician of his choice to try. If that also fails after two months, Tunisians will go back to the ballot box.

Next week's presidential runoff pits Kais Saied, an independent, against Nabil Karoui, a media mogul detained on corruption charges that he denies. If he loses, he might appeal to overturn the result citing his detention.