Tunisia, Cradle Of 'Arab Spring,' In Historic Presidential Vote
Tunisians are going to the polls today to choose a president in a runoff election that represents a choice between the country's interim leader, swept to power in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring revolution, or a candidate with ties to the ousted regime.
An aging Beji Caid Essebsi, who represents the secular-leaning Nidaa Tounes (Tunisia Calls) party and who served under Tunisia's deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, is challenging interim leader Moncef Marzouki.
Essebsi's support comes from the wealthy coastal regions and he has used his experience and the prospect of stability to woo voters. Marzouki, 67, is a human rights activist who was forced into exile during the Ben Ali regime. Marzouki is more popular in the country's poorer south.
As of 2 p.m. Tunisian time (8 a.m. ET), turnout was reported at 38 percent.
As the BBC notes: "The process is being scrutinised not just by international election observers, but also by thousands of Tunisian observers, who are walking around in blue vests and filling in forms. "
In October, Nidaa Tounes won a resounding victory in parliamentary elections, grabbing 85 seats, or just under 40 percent of the 217-seat assembly.