3rd Aug 2020

An MEP in Tunis: Women, Islamists do well in election

  • Tunisia election poster. About 110 parties ran, but only six or seven are likely to make it into parliament (Photo: European Parliament)

The first post-Arab Spring election has boosted the profile of women in Arab politics and is likely to yield an Islamist winner, according to an MEP who monitored the vote.

Portuguese socialist deputy Ana Gomes told EUobserver from Tunisia on Monday (24 October) that based on information from her monitoring group, the US-based National Democratic Intsitute, out of the 110 parties which ran, about six will make it to parliament and the moderate Islamist Ennahda party will get the most seats.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The official result is due late on Monday or on Tuesday.

There will probably be few women MPs. But women played a prominent role in the vote - each party had to put up 50 percent female candidates and women made up the bulk of the 13,000 domestic election observers.

"Attendance was massive, massive ... between 80 percent and 85 percent. It was very orderly and peaceful. It's a great statement about the Tunisians. People are very proud, very conscious of the impact this will have beyond their country, to encourage all those who are fighting for democracy," Gomes said.

She added that the "democratic maturity" of Tunisian society comes from its history of secularism, high levels of education and from its links with Europe through the Tunisian diaspora and tourism.

Meanwhile, the strength of Islamist groups in the region, including in Libya and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, is in part a reaction to the Western legacy in Iraq and its support for old Middle East dictators, as well as due to money from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Gomes, the EU parliament's rapportuer on Libya and a former Portuguese abassador to Indonesia, said she was "not happy" to hear Libyan rebel leader Abdul Jalil this weekend call for sharia law in Libya.

She voiced confidence that Libyan elections, due in eight months' time, will be free and fair, however: "Having seen how open the Libyans are to advice from abroad and from those who have gone through the same experience, including Tunisia, I am sure the process in Libya can go well."

She noted the Tunisian example has already prompted Egypt to send out invitations for Western election monitors despite previous reluctance.

But she was less confident that Egypt's vote, due in November, will go smoothly.

"Egypt will be a more difficult challenge ... In Tunisia, the faith that ordinary people had in the independent electoral committee was extremely important. In Egypt, I am sorry, but I am not so optimistic," she said. "The difference is in the attitude [of openness to Western advisors and to the Tunisian model]. In Egypt I haven't seen much of this."

EU must show solidarity with Tunisia, commissioner says

Tunisian authorities are willing to take back migrants who crossed the Mediterranean over to Italy, but EU states should also help with the relocation of African refugees from Libya, home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said after her visit to Tunis.

Tunisian migrant: EU treatment is 'shameful'

Tunisian migrants stuck in harsh conditions in Lampedusa feel let down by the EU compared to the effort made by ordinary Tunisians to help refugees fleeing violence in Libya.


Egypt: Putting the guns aside

In order for democracy to flourish in Egypt the military will have to step aside, writes Miguel de Corral.

News in Brief

  1. France imposes new Covid-19 tests on visitors
  2. Brussels closes all mosques for Eid festival
  3. Amsterdam and Rotterdam tighten face mask measures
  4. UK tightens lockdown measures in north England
  5. EU banking watchdog warning on 26 banks
  6. 60,000 rally in Minsk ahead of Belarus election
  7. 'Better Regulation' is key for EU policy-making, auditors say
  8. Polish tribunal to examine EU gender-violence treaty


Entering a new, more Putin-like, Russia

The so-called "all-Russia" vote finishing today, with more than 200 amendments to the Russian constitution, has been marked by systematic electoral fraud, mass mobilisation of the administrative resources, populistic promises or exploiting the historical memory.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. EU mishandling corona-travel, Belgian expert says
  2. France wants rule of law sanctions on recovery budget
  3. The three 'Elephants in Room' in EU-India relations
  4. First use of new EU sanctions against Russia, China hackers
  5. Six 'LGBTI-free' Polish cities left out of EU funding
  6. EU's new Security Union Strategy is a good first step
  7. US 'cavalry' leaving Germany to go back home
  8. Why is building renovation 'Cinderella' of EU Green Deal?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us