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Tunisians casting ballots in parliamentary elections

A Tunisian man casts his ballot at a polling station in the capital, Tunis, on October 6, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Millions of people in Tunisia are taking to the polls to cast their ballots in parliamentary elections, the third such vote since the 2011 revolution in the North African country.

Voting began across the country at 08:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on Sunday, with some seven million people being eligible to elect their representatives at the popular assembly.

More than 1,500 lists and 15,000 candidates, including from registered political parties as well as independents, are vying for the 217-seat chamber.

Voters are demanding better living conditions and a boost in the economy.

​A Tunisian man looks at the posters of legislative candidates in the capital, Tunis, on October 5, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Preliminary results are scheduled to be announced on October 10, and official results on November 17. The Tunisian parliament will then be given two months to choose a prime minister and form a new government.

Under Tunisia’s electoral system, a party would need to secure 109 seats to govern on its own, but such a result seems unlikely for any of the parties.

A 2019 survey by the International Republican Institute revealed that 70 percent of the Tunisian population distrusted political parties, while 59 percent partly or greatly distrusted the parliament.

Unofficial polls suggest that independent candidates are likely to dominate the legislative chamber.

The Sunday voting comes three weeks after the first round of a presidential election saw two political novices — Kais Saied and Nabil Karoui — garner the most ballots in a low-turnout contest and advance to a runoff vote, which will take place on October 13.

This also comes eight years after Tunisians rose up to abolish autocratic rule and introduce democracy in a revolution that inspired the so-called Arab Spring.

The uprising ousted the country’s dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had been in power for over two decades and who died in exile in Saudi Arabia last month.

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