Tunisians vote in first free election

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Voters in each of the country’s 33 districts, six of which are abroad, have a choice of between 40 and 80 electoral lists, consisting of parties and independent candidates.

A proportional representation system likely will mean that no political party will dominate the assembly, which is expected to be divided roughly between the Ennahda party, centrist parties and leftist parties, requiring coalitions and compromises during the writing of the constitution.

“This is the first time in my life I’ve truly voted. It is something extraordinary,” said Turkane Seklani, a 37-year-old casting her ballot in polling station set up in the Bourguiba High School in Tunis. The sun was still rising as she cast her ballot soon after 7 a.m., but the capital already was humming with political activity.

She said she voted for center-left party Ettakatol because its leader, a doctor who opposed Mr. Ben Ali in the years before the uprising, “is a good man and I find him honest and with integrity.”

In the 10 months since the uprising, Tunisia’s economy and employment, part of the reason for the revolution in the first place, has only become worse as tourists and foreign investors have stayed away.

Many have expressed indifference about the election out of frustration that new jobs have yet to appear and life has not improved since the revolution.

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